It was a chance meeting during a clinic rotation in Uganda. Three physician assistants students found themselves moved by a 16-year-old named Ronald.
"I've never seen anything like it. His heart pounding out of his chest. It sounded like there was a washing machine stuck inside of it," described James Torell, when seeing Ronald for the first time.
His damaged heart has worked hard his whole life. Each beat is a challenge for the teenager.
"What he has is - in the top two chambers, the wall has a large hole," explained Lauren Beatty.
It's a defect that only surgery can fix. And a diagnosis that devastated Ronald's family - unable to afford the lifesaving procedure.
"Seeing his family and how they interacted just really touched me about Ronald," remembered Shelby Boggus.
"We just said we wanted to help and promised his family we would. So we did," explained Torell.
The trio set up a fundraising page. Donations added up. But only half of what's needed for heart surgery.
Melody Daniels, a friend of one of the PA's, saw Ronald's story. It touched her heart. The heart, an organ that failed her father in May. Ted Daniels, 56, passed away from a sudden heart attack. She decided to donate the balance for the surgery and honor his memory.
"It's almost like an organ donation type thing. Somehow my dad's sick heart can help someone else," she said.
Surgery is set for next month.