Open Heart International is a volunteer driven organisation. It was established in 1985 by Mr. Russell Lee, Mr. Rudi Morgan and Dr. John Wallace as volunteers, who all worked for Sydney Adventist Hospital at the time.
The history of Sydney Adventist Hospital (or the "San" as it is affectionately known) is rich with stories of “San” educated healthcare professionals individually volunteering to help the disadvantaged and medically challenged around the world.
After witnessing the lack of surgical options for those dying of rheumatic heart disease in Tonga, Russell returned to Australia determined to make a difference.
It was from this desire to make a difference in Tonga that led to the initiation of "Operation Open Heart for Tonga" by the three men, and was strongly supported by many others.
By 1986, they had succeeded in fundraising, secured the acquisition of equipment, and had coordinated a small group of Sydney Adventist Hospital medical and nursing staff.
Well organised, the team travelled to Tonga aiming to provide life saving cardiac surgery to those in need. The trip was deemed a success after saving the lives of many Tongans while at the same time instilling a hope for more similar successes in the future.
Most importantly, each team now trains local medical and nursing staff, with the aim that these countries may gain self-sufficiency sometime in the future.