The incidence of childhood heart disease in developing countries is high, but access to cardiac surgery is limited. This mismatch has given rise to numerous humanitarian programs aimed at sending children abroad for surgical treatment. However little is available about the long-term outcome of these interventions. In 1999 we conducted a retrospective study of 168 Senegalese children undergoing follow-up at the Principal Hospital in Dakar after being transferred to Europe or the Ivory Coast for surgical treatment thanks to the Terre des Hommes Association. A total of 85 children presented congenital heart disease (CHD) and 83 presented acquired heart disease (AHD). Fifteen patients did not undergo surgery due to either contraindications or preoperative death. At the end of study, 23 children had been lost to follow-up mostly from the CHA group and presumably some were cured. Outcome was verifiable in the remaining 145 patients with a median follow-up of 5.6 years. Ninety-seven patients were cured or undergoing surveillance. Quality of life was better in the CHD group (p = 0.047). Forty-eight patients died including 16 in the CHD group and 32 in the AHD group. Perioperative mortality (n = 19) was lower and late mortality (n = 29) was higher in the AHD group (p = 0.005). In the AHD group compliance with surveillance was better for children with valve prostheses. In children treated for isolated mitral valve insufficiency, late mortality was higher after valve replacement than valve repair (p = 0.04). In absence of comparative study data, high mortality was due in part to the long delay between the decision to send the patient abroad and the actual evacuation. These findings support humanitarian action to promote cardiac surgery in developing countries.