Carolyn Salvador is a true advocate for children across the globe. For the past four years as CEO of Enduring Hearts, she has been committed to the nonprofit’s mission of funding innovative research aimed at improving the lives of children with transplanted hearts. Enduring Hearts, an Atlanta Based organization founded in 2013, has raised over 6 million dollars in funding the critical research needed to eliminate pediatric heart transplant rejection and life-threatening complications associated with the process.
A typical pediatric heart transplant only lasts 17 years due to organ rejection. Enduring Hearts’ key focus is in raising money to support the researchers around the world to unlock the keys in preventing organ rejection thereby granting children longer lives.
“Less than five percent of children get a chance for another heart transplant that is why we need investment into research to make the first transplant last a lifetime. There aren’t second chances because a child must die for another to receive a transplant. We are bringing other organizations to fund alongside us because there is less than .001% of federal funding. We need to care,” said Salvador.
Salvador, originally from Long Island, New York and now based in Atlanta, has been a longtime advocate for the advancement of children, having owned a childcare facility and early development center where she managed 30 teachers and 200 children. In addition, she was approached to lead the State of Georgia’s association for early education and became the executive director of the Georgia Child Care Association. Her passion for children led her to the role of Chief Executive Officer of Enduring Hearts where she and the organization are globally recognized as crusaders for the cause.
Enduring Hearts is led by a team of 16 board of directors with diverse and different backgrounds of business that set strategic plans for the nonprofit and provide Salvador with guidance. They provide input into programs, fundraising, grant-making, and establish partnerships with leading medical institutions on how to make the most impact on research.
Salvador works closely with Dr. Robert Boucek and his Scientific Advisory Committee. The SAC, a team of top pediatric cardiologists and immunologists provides valuable input on the meritorious science from all over the world so Enduring Hearts can decide on the allocation of the funding its grants.
Working in conjunction with over 50 institutions, children’s hospitals and universities like Harvard, Stanford and Columbia, Enduring Hearts has funded some of the leading research projects today. Making pivotal progress with research in Colorado, Enduring Hearts is working for an earlier detection of organ rejection so that diagnosis does not rely on a traditional heart biopsy. The traditional heart biopsy tests a small portion of the heart and because of the varied makeup of the heart’s muscle, it may miss the accurate detection of organ acceptance or rejection and thereby miss the evaluation of the white blood cells rejecting the heart. Instead, Enduring Hearts is focusing on the development of a blood bio marker and through blood and micro-RNA they will be able to detect rejection 18 months earlier. The future for the field of pediatric transplants is to be able to tell organ rejection in another way than the traditional biopsy.
Pediatric transplant researchers are a small field with about 250 researchers. Enduring Hearts is also looking at funding Xenotransplantation, using hearts from other sources along with stem cells and regenerative medicine. They fund research on stem cells and their ability to replicate inside a coronary artery to overcome Coronary Vasculopathy.
Every pediatric heart transplant researcher knows Enduring Hearts because they are the only organization solely dedicated to funding this kind of pediatric research. Not only working with institutions, the charity partners the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation and the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society, a registry where the data from children who have had heart transplants is collected. In this way, it can focus on granting awards through partnership on contemporary issues such as racial disparity recognizing that such leads to worse outcomes. Similarly, Enduring Hearts can grant funds for research to study medical adherence to develop an understanding of why some children don’t take their medication crucial to preventing rejection.
Salvador has been monumental in opening the dialogue on pediatrics with the leadership of the American Heart Association. They don’t concentrate on pediatric heart transplants. Through conversation, Salvador fostered a 3-million-dollar joint initiative with the AHA where each organization put a million and a half dollars to jointly fund research for four awards each of $750,000. Through their AHA membership, Enduring Hearts has been able to bring to light the best researchers in America, the AHA/Enduring Hearts Joint Collaborative Science Award.
Through dedicated work, strong relationships, and her commitment to fundraising, Salvador has been a monumental advocate for bringing life to sick children. This March 4, 2022, Enduring Hearts will host their Bourbon Gala. With around 400 to 450 guests in attendance, patrons of the organization will join for their annual gala featuring bourbon tastings of up to 12 high-end bourbons. Tables will feature Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. A live auction and band will be the highlight of the evening with the hope of raising over 1 million dollars in funding for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s mission of research. An additional fundraiser is their virtual poker and National Giving Tuesday, which is the last Tuesday in November where donors can go to Donateheart.org to donate.
“We envision a world where every child who needs a transplant gets one and that it lasts a lifetime. We want to impact all the lives of children here today. My hope is we can get more people to care about children with with living with a new heart. Research is hope and the fact that we have been able to move the needle of transplant longevity from 11 years to 17 years with investment is monumental. There are brilliant minds waiting to be funded and it is a matter of funding and I know we will unlock the keys to rejection and give children longer lives,” said Salvador.