- 1992 -
At the close of the Cold War, Dr. Gary Morsch, a family physician from the Kansas City Metro, traveled with several other medical professionals to Russia to assess the state of patient care in the former Soviet Union and provide aid to the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The group witnessed a healthcare system on the brink of collapse.
After touring several first-rate facilities and meeting many talented physicians, Dr. Morsch learned the hospital pharmacies were empty and doctors had no way to provide patients with life-saving medicines. Consequently, when he returned, he challenged his local Rotary Club to help provide medicines and medical supplies to hospitals around Moscow. Collection drives soon spread across Kansas City. Major pharmaceutical companies joined the effort by donating much-needed product. Even the U.S. government got involved by providing the largest Air Force cargo plane in its fleet to fly the medical aid to Russia.
On May 22, 1992, the C-5A Galaxy aircraft landed in Moscow.
The 75 tons of donated aid was distributed to 32 area hospitals & 9 orphanages, and patients began receiving the care they needed. A gift from the heart of America to the heart of Russia—the Heart to Heart Airlift— became a reality because hundreds of volunteers and caring corporate partners joined together to help people in need. At the time, it was the largest private humanitarian airlift in U.S. history. Although originally conceived as a one-time-only project, the momentum from that first effort was so great that it launched Heart to Heart International.