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Burlingame startup focuses on global cardiovascular care
July 08, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Cheikhou Fall, a patient from Senegal, had open heart surgery in Paris is pictured with Annabel Lavielle, president of the Global Heart Network Foundation.

A life-changing event is what led Annabel Lavielle to start the Global Heart Network Foundation, a Burlingame-based nonprofit with a mission to connect people and organizations focused on the delivery of cardiovascular care across the globe.

When Lavielle’s now 19-year-old daughter Elise was 6 months old, she had open heart surgery when Lavielle’s family was living in Paris.

“Even though we went through the most traumatic time, we met a nonprofit that started in Paris that helps with the life-saving surgery,” said Annabel Lavielle, president of the Global Heart Network Foundation. “I had that sort of ‘woah moment’ when I realized there were so many others out there who did not have access to the lifesaving surgeries.”

So, finally, in 2011, she decided to begin a nonprofit with a mission to enhance collaboration between all stakeholders through a contributive platform, to increase access to cardiac care in low- and middle-income countries. This was following a move to the San Francisco. Lavielle then received a master’s in nonprofit administration from University of San Francisco and, during her research, she realized that organizations had little public visibility and had difficulty finding the principle organizations in their respective service delivery models and geographical areas of operation.

Now, the group’s online platform acts as a portal for collaboration and communication to become a supply chain management tool serving professionals between the nonprofit, philanthropic, government and international development sectors, as well as medical personnel, volunteers and the patients.

“To help find the sources for them through collaborative work is hugely gratifying,” she said. “We see ourselves as a network of networks.”

One example of its work is its partnership with the crowdfunding platform Samahope to help finance open heart surgery for children suffering from Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect, and who live under the poverty level in their country and therefore unable to have surgery. Some of the cardiac surgeons in the Global Heart Network Foundation in low- and middle-income countries will be introduced to Samahope’s supporters to appeal for funds to help cover surgery. The foundation is also establishing a cloud-based resource-matching platform that is rapidly increasing access to cardiac health care in low- and middle-income counties. The foundation is currently creating a global database of cardiothoracic delivery infrastructure.

Board member Sangeeta Tiwari officially joined in March. Tiwari was a researcher for a long time and worked in the pharmaceutical industry, but got into nonprofits because her son, who is 8 now, had open heart surgery when he was born.

“That had a huge impact on my life and family’s life — it was a miracle,” she said. “That’s when I made a decision to give back. After I joined the foundation, I have been working with our fellow board members to find ways to bring all the nonprofits together who are working in this field to streamline the process.”

Tiwari notes this is a special nonprofit to her because she and the other board members are building it from scratch.

“As a board member, I’m doing hands-on work putting it all together,” she said. “I’m really enjoying the process of solidifying the ground work. We’re breathing it every day.”

Lavielle invites anyone interested in cardiovascular care to connect. For more information, go to and to connect, email

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: heart, foundation, nonprofit, surgery, platform, network,

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