Medicine on a Mission

More than an advertising tagline for the people who make up the University of Maryland Medical Center. Teng Lee, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland, recently journeyed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for a medical mission with Project Medishare to help patients still reeling from the lingering effects of the 2010 earthquake that killed 316,000 and left 1 million people homeless.

Dr. Lee and other medical professionals volunteered their time to perform general and thoracic surgery. Cardiac surgeries were not feasible since there is not a single heart/lung machine or echocardiography machine in the entire country. Dr. Lee felt this trip would be “quite a shift from what he does every day” and would require him to rely on “more clinical knowledge than technology.” He is used to the sophisticated American hospital system where he performs, among other cases, complex hybrid arch procedures and thoracic aorta procedures. Many of the general surgeries performed by Dr. Lee were on gunshot victims. Rioting is prevalent as citizens fight for limited resources. “You’d think that it would have improved [since the earthquake], but it really hasn’t,” says Dr. Lee.

“For a patient to get one unit of blood, their family must donate two units,” says Dr. Lee. “You can imagine that in emergent cases, this does not bode well for the patient. We are very lucky in America.” Dr. Lee hopes to return to Haiti next year. With some planning, his goal is to be able to travel with the surgical equipment to support cardiac surgeries — a treatment that is not currently available to any Haitian patients.

This page was last updated: November 7, 2013

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