Pediatric Heart Surgeon Saves Lives in Ukraine
For immediate release: January 24, 2014
When Dr. Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, operates on pediatric patients within the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), he is able to do so in a safe, sterile environment with the best tools available. His surgical team is skilled and knowledgeable, and they work together for the best possible outcome for the patient.
Dr. Kaushal, who is also director of pediatric cardiac surgery for the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program, understands that this is not always the case, however. In developing countries around the world, doctors struggle to care for their patients without adequate resources – facilities, tools, or support staff. Each year, Dr. Kaushal travels to a country with limited cardiac surgery resources and lends his surgical expertise to help treat patients, many of whom have been waiting for his arrival to receive a life-changing surgery they couldn’t otherwise get in their own country.
In December 2013, Dr. Kaushal volunteered a week of his time and traveled with the International Children’s Heart Foundation to Karkov, Ukraine to provide sophisticated surgical support to the local medical center. The hospital in Karkov had only one cardiac surgeon who could only perform simple procedures by herself. She needed other surgical partners to perform complex heart surgeries that American surgical teams do routinely.
From December 7 to December 14, Dr. Kaushal assisted with approximately 10 cases, performing complex procedures for children with congenital heart defects. With Dr. Kaushal’s support, the cardiac surgery team in Karkov was able to place pulmonary artery bands, correct atrial and ventricular septal defects, and save the life of an adult patient with an emergency aortic dissection.
Nicolette Dupuis, a certified surgical technician, frequently partners with Dr. Kaushal in the operating rooms at UMCH. She accompanied Dr. Kaushal on the trip and educated the Ukrainian nurses and other local surgical staff members on safety protocols, including the importance of sterility and proper practices for both patient and practitioner safety. The trip, she says, gave her a deep appreciation for the amenities found in her daily work environment at UMCH and the excellent care she can provide patients because of them.
Dr. Kaushal plans to return in May 2014 to follow up with a patient he operated on in December – a little boy who will require a second surgery for right pulmonary artery stenosis. The great needs he and Nicolette witnessed first-hand from Ukrainian families motivate them to help underserved families and reminds them to be grateful for the resources we have in American medicine.