Akron Children’s work with St. Damien Hospital in Haiti takes center stage in a new film being shown at the 2021 Cleveland International Film Festival.
The 59-minute film, called “Open Hearts,” can be streamed for $10 from April 8 to 20. Of that, a $1 donation goes to the nonprofit MedWish.
You can watch a trailer and download the film for viewing here: https://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2021/open-hearts
“The film focuses on 12 Haitian children who are selected for heart surgeries based on need, but from a long list of hundreds that must be pared down,” said Dr. Kempf, a retired Akron Children’s ER physician and producer on the film. “It’s a compelling look at that agonizing decision making, all the work involved to bring children to Akron Children’s for life-saving surgeries and to set up a pediatric cardiac surgery program in Haiti. There are doctors, nurses and volunteers from many different countries involved.”
In addition to Dr. Kempf and wife Dr. Ellen Kempf (also retired), Dr. John Pope, Janet Rogers, Cassandra Ruggles, Mike Whittenberger, Chris Kavanagh, Mike Vaughn and Dr. Brittany Potts, also a producer, are other Akron Children’s employees featured in the film.
“We hope the audience finds this topic as powerful and engaging as we do,” said Dr. Kempf. “Nearly 10 percent of Haitian children die of largely treatable illnesses before their 5th birthday. Heart defects are quickly diagnosed and treated here but are not there.”
Dr. Kempf is grateful that the documentary is showcasing work he has been stewarding for years.
“No child picks his or her country of birth,” he said. “But every child deserves all that we can do to give them a chance at life. Only many coming together can bring about change. Let us continue to do the work.”