US Section joins the World Surgical Foundation for Surgical Team to Ethiopia
On February 13, 2009 a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and non-medical volunteers departed for Ethiopia from Dulles International Airport in Virginia. This team of humanitarians was led by ICS Fellow Dr. Domingo Alvear a pediatric surgeon from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. Alvear is the founder of the World Surgical Foundation and has spent the better part of the past 20 years giving back to those in need around the world. Ultimately the team would include 5 other ICS Fellows including ICS-US Section President Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran a cardiothoracic surgeon from Chicago, President Elect Dr. Jay Bachicha an obstetrician and gynecologist from San Francisco, Dr. Maxime Coles an orthopedic surgeon from Kansas, Dr. Emerson Knight an urologist from Harrisburg and Dr. Alfonso Barragan a general surgeon from Monterey Park, California.
In total 24 surgeons were part of a team that consisted of over 50 individuals who spent 2 weeks in a country that has 80,000,000 residents and only 500,000 physicians. Of this number only 200 are surgeons. The officially designated ICS Surgical Team provided much needed medical and surgical care to numerous individuals that otherwise would have to do without.
In 2006 the US Section decided to form a collaborative agreement with Dr. Alvear and the World Surgical Foundation to work together and meet the humanitarian goals of both groups. In February, the first official joint project came to fruition and it was undoubtedly a success. In addition to the hundreds of Ethiopians who received care, the surgical and medical staff at the Black Lion Hospital received valuable training as they were able to observe very complex procedures performed by highly trained American surgeons and medical personnel.
Sorely needed medical equipment and supplies were also provided to the local medical staff in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Towards the end of 2008 a 20 foot cargo container filled with supplies was sent via ship. The container included OR tables, anesthesia machines, exam tables, cautery units, a pulse oximeter, walkers, wheel chairs, sutures, gowns, gloves and assorted pharmaceuticals. Team members also carried a variety of supplies during their flight to Ethiopia. Dr. Vigneswaran and his colleague Dr. Vargas from the University of Chicago took an esophageal broncho video scope and tower control unit that was used for diagnosis and treatment with stent placements on 6 patients during the mission. The local medical staff was also trained to use the equipment which remained in Ethiopia.
Below, donated equipment being setup for use by team members.
Below, Dr. Vigneswaran and local surgeon Dr. Abebe prepare
for their first surgery together.
Dr. Vigneswaran, Dr. Abebe and others during a surgery below.
Below Dr. Vigneswaran demonstrates the use of one of the
Dr. Alvear looks over to an Xray during a procedure.
Locals are shown the proper method for placing a central line.
Below a local is supervised while intubating a patient.
Below Dr. Vigneswaran to the far right and other volunteers
relax at the end of a busy day.
Dr. Milliard Derbew, Dean of the Addis Ababa Medical School hosted
the team members for a barbeque at his home. Pictured below
from the left are Dr. Alvear, Dr. Vigneswaran, Dr. Derbew, Dr. Bachicha
and Dr. Vargas.
The final two pictures below depict the hallways of the Black Lion Hospital
as locals await their turn to see a doctor who may be able to help.