And just like that the surgical camp is finished! I had such an amazing time with the team from Children’s National and the team from UHI and seriously learned so much. Most of the team left last night but there are 5 of us that are still here until Sunday. I do not have too much to do except coordinate rides to and from the hospital for the nurses/icu doctors that are still here. Other than that I plan on enjoying my “luxurious” lifestyle in Kampala, which translates to writing my medical essays that are due by Monday in the air conditioning.
On Tuesday morning a 7yr old girl named Ciarra finally got her heart surgery! Her surgery had been moved 2 times prior, the Saturday we only did one case and Monday because she had a fever, and you could tell that her family was so relieved when she finally went back. She had a procedure done to fix her doublet outlet right ventricle (DORV). This condition means that both the pulmonary artery and the aorta arise from the right ventricle, when in a normal heart, the aorta would arise from the left ventricle to carry oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. This procedure is probably the most complex one I was able to see while I was here. I got to watch for about an hour and was once again blown away.
In the afternoon I walked up to the children’s ward to help find a patient that needed to come to UHI. I don’t think I realized the extent of the condition of the rest of the hospital, simply because we have been sheltered in UHI, which is in great condition in comparison. On this walk I passed by the children’s HIV clinic, which is just hard to stomach in general, and also learned that the mortality rate for incoming emergencies is over 3%, which is really high. Once I arrived to the children’s ward, my heart sank. This “ward” is just a big room with tiny twin beds extremely close together, with multiple patients lying in agony for everyone else to see. They only move bodies in the morning, so if a child dies during the day they simply place a sheet over their body until the next morning. One of the nurses who came last year told me she went up to the PICU and they had placed an infant in an islet with a dead infant because they were running out of room. Thank god I wasn’t there to witness that because I think I would have lost it. Moving on from this heart wrenching scene, we found the patient with pericarditis we were looking for and brought him back to UHI. He had a pericardial effusion, a relatively simple procedure, to remove the fluid that had built up around his heart. And with his procedure, we were finished!
I think all in all, the doctors would call this week a success. Not including the cath cases, they performed 5 open-heart surgeries even though they had scheduled 7. The reasons the others were not performed were out of their control but I know medicine tends to attract people who are perfectionists (hey paul). Not that they need my two cents BUT I thought they did a great job. You can really tell how passionate the doctors and nurses who came on this trip are for their jobs and this program.
On Wednesday morning I went with Dr. Sable to meet with a team from Imaging the World (check it out). ITW has been conducting screenings of pregnant mothers in rural areas throughout Uganda to help detect any complications that can arise during pregnancy and it is our plan to collaborate with them to screen these mothers for RHD as well. The team showed us their technology and how they upload their images, which was very insightful. I am hoping to help implement some of their techniques back in Gulu because right now we have to copy images onto a hardrive, which takes longer than you could possibly imagine. Speaking of Gulu, I talked with one of the nurses that I work with yesterday and she informed me that they screened 16 families while Twalib and I were away! Could not be happier with this turnout and I am super excited to return (minus the drive) on Sunday to help complete the project. I can’t believe that I am leaving in a little more than a month! Time flies.
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