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You Are Essential For Every Surgery!

You Are Essential For Every Surgery!

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From the moment a trip begins, precise preparations for every operation begin: instruments are sterilized, equipment is checked, hands are washed, surgical gowns and masks are secured, lights are adjusted—each in a very particular way.

When the patient is ready, surgeons open the chest, assess the exact nature of every heart defect, make each delicate stitch to repair the heart, all the while being aware of any subtle changes in the patient’s condition, and finally closing up the chest to cover a repaired heart. Two surgeons scrub in for each surgery—it takes more than one set of hands to perform a successful operation.

It’s easy to think of heart surgeries as solo shows—a single surgeon the only player onstage.

In reality, heart surgeries are complicated choreographies, and everyone involved is essential.

Before any surgery takes place, the cardiologist sees the patient, diagnoses any heart defects, and recommends candidates for surgery.

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Inside the operating room, the scrub nurse prepares patients, manages instruments, and maintain a scrupulously sterile environment for surgery. Anesthesiologists administer the fluids which keep patients asleep for just the right amount of time and keeps a close eye on levels. Perfusionists manage the heart-lung machine, and keep blood oxygenated during surgery. The blood bank manager ensures there is enough life-giving supplies at hand. And a biomedical engineer is always at the ready, keeping complicated machinery running smoothly.

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In the Intensive Care Unit, critical-care doctors and nurses treat healing patients, continuously measuring heart rates and fluids. The respiratory therapist keeps lungs functioning well and helps to prevent complications like pneumonia. X-ray and lab technicians provide the evidence needed to fully manage care.

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In the Step-down Unit, the last phase of in-hospital treatment, further monitoring takes place to manage patient wellness, and parents are trained how to best care for their children so they can go home as quickly as possible.

Behind the scenes, there are further layers, including those who clean the hospital, sterilize instruments, wash sheets, and more.

Skilled surgeons are essential to every operation, of course! Dr. Novick and our surgical staff brings tens of thousands of hours of training and experience to every operation. There is no surgery without surgeons!

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But it’s also true that without cleaners, there is no surgery. Without sterilized instruments, there is no surgery. Without bagged blood and plane tickets and filled syringe pumps, there is no surgery.

In this complicated choreography, everyone is essential—including you! Without your generous donations, there is no surgery. You help to make all of this happen! Give today.

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We Are Making A Real Difference In Libya—Join Us!

We Are Making A Real Difference In Libya—Join Us!

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It was a small news article, easy to miss. Turkish hospitals and hotels are refusing to receive any new patients from Libya. The debt has grown too high, as Turkish hospitals treated more than 8,000 Libyans sent to them for care, and the bills have not been paid.

Why are so many Libyans sent out of country for care? After too many years of civil war and instability, and the growing presence of ISIS, the health care system in Libya is unable to cope.

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Syria and Iraq get the bulk of media attention, but life in Libya is difficult for many. Half of the population has been directly affected by war. Two million residents are in need of health services, and there are nearly three quarters of a million refugees and displaced people in Libya.

Large organizations like the World Health Organization are focused on delivering basic care to large swaths of the population—providing childhood vaccines and preventing communicable diseases.

But with limited hospitals functioning in Libya, a shortage of health care workers, and limited funding, children with acute health needs like those born with heart defects can’t get care.

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That’s where we come in.

We aren’t afraid of the challenges in Libya. In fact, this is a country where we can make a real difference!

We provide surgeries for children with the most complicated heart defects—saving lives. We perform surgeries in-country, which is not only cheaper than sending patients out for treatment, but keeps precious dollars and resources in Libya where it’s so needed.

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We provide local doctors and nurses with the expert training they need. They are able to learn global best practices, from some of the world’s best practitioners, within their own communities. This hands-on learning is put to work immediately, saving the lives of Libyan children.

We provide continuity, returning throughout the year to care for more children and to further the education of local health care professionals. In a place so unstable, our continued presence provides needed stability!

In the face of civil war, instability, ISIS, and massive systemic needs, we aren’t running away.

In fact we’re investing further. Join us in making a real difference by donating today.

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Teaching International Best Practices All Over the World

Teaching International Best Practices All Over the World

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Teaching and learning is woven into every part of surgical missions. It begins first thing each day with morning rounds. Cardiologists, surgeons, intensivists (critical care doctors, trained to treat the most critical patients), intensive care nurses—international and local—collaborate on diagnoses and treatment strategies for each patient.

Throughout the day, local staff are trained by our team in the whole range of patient care, from the first moment a child is admitted to hospital until the moment they are released. They have the chance to put learning into practice immediately. And we are able to guide their learning, giving as much practice as needed until skills are mastered.

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Teaching is a key program element for Novick Cardiac Alliance. And NCA is uniquely positioned to do this well.

Our full-time staff and volunteers have studied and practiced in the United States, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and around the world. Each is continuously studying to keep up with latest studies and developments in their fields. Each is experienced in the best practices from their own countries.

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Our staff and volunteers have worked in the most cutting-edge, modern hospital settings. They have also worked in developing countries with rudimentary equipment. They have worked in peaceful settings, and have worked during outbreaks of war, as IV poles swayed beside operating room tables because of bomb blasts. Countless hours of working in the best conditions, the most basic, and the whole range between have given our team the skills to work anywhere.

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Over the years working together—across diagnostic machines, operating tables and recovery beds—we continue to learn from each other. Our staff and volunteers—from different countries, with different experience and backgrounds—share best practices with each other. Because of this, we are able to practice and teach international best practices to local doctors and nurses.

In creating Novick Cardiac Alliance, Dr. Novick recruited an international group of professionals who are clinical experts in pediatric cardiac care—yes. He recruited a group who share a passion to help end the suffering caused by congenital heart disease in the developing world—true. He also recruited a group of professionals who are curious, keen to study, and are always learning.

And it is exactly this unique synergy, created by international professionals eager to learn, and open to learning the best from each other, that is making such an impact in places like Libya.

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When others see Libya, they see civil war, ISIS, and the political and financial instability that has crushed Libya’s health system.

We see that too. But we also see talented cardiologists, surgeons and nurses eager to learn more—eager to be skilled enough to look after their people without outside help.

We are investing in that day—join us!

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We Are Cardiac Alliance

We Are Cardiac Alliance

This week marks our first anniversary as Novick Cardiac Alliance, though our team has been working together for many years. Our new video shows you a little about where we have been and what we have been up to…   And we are only just getting started – Join us!

 

Donate  financially or Volunteer with us and help to show every child that they are worth the risk.

Dr. Novick’s Blog

Dr. Novick’s Blog

Blue Babies, Bombs and Bad Places

So what was it like to be the first American based pediatric cardiac team in Tehran, Iran since 1979?

Tehran at sunrise

Wonderful people, incredible hospitality, eager to learn new techniques and protocols for the care of their children with heart disease and guess what? Not one anti-American word spoken to us the entire trip, amazed? Shouldn’t be because people all over the world are the same, it is our governments that create the friction.

Fortunately we don’t deal with politics, we are Ambassadors of Good Will and we stick to that like glue.Surgery in Iran

One side note for all of you, we cannot seem to get away from Iraqi children. The mother in the photo is holding her 26 day old newborn who we performed an arterial switch operation on and as you can see the baby is fine. The mother is from Baghdad and she went to Nasiriyah to find our team and was told we were not there, but in Iran, so she came to Tehran to find us and have us operate on her child.Baby Misq and MotherImagine that, an Iraqi mother traveled to Iran to have an American team operate on her baby, this is the kind of diplomacy we love. We will be returning to Tehran in November, to do more work and to spread the diplomacy of Good Will!

Dr No

 

Children's Medical Centre Tehran

Surgery and Beyond

Surgery and Beyond

The picture of a child with a healed heart is a simple expression of our purpose, however what is often more difficult to show is the ‘behind the scenes’ work we do that is vital to the success of our programs. At Cardiac Alliance we believe that by educating and collaborating with local healthcare teams, we can help to build sustainable pediatric cardiac care services that are capable of caring for hundreds of children with heart defects every year.

Happy child after surgery
Happy child after surgery

The surgery is fascinating and the children are cute but it is the collaboration with the local staff and the growth we see in their team that we, the Cardiac Alliance staff and volunteers find the most exciting.

Dr. Novick collaborating with team
Dr. Novick collaborating with team

Each trip begins with the arrival of the Cardiac Alliance team. On our recent trip to Macedonia, Frank Molloy our PICU Nurse Practitioner and Educator first walked our volunteer team through the surgical unit in the hospital and shared the local protocols. Frank could see many changes that had occurred in the 2 months since our last visit- better organization of supplies, two new nurses, the newly developed quick guide “cheat sheets” for the team to refer to, even new decorations in the Pediatric ICU!

Frank teaching Macedonian team
Frank teaching Macedonian team

With each patient, the Cardiac Alliance team makes sure that the local nurses and doctors are thoroughly involved. The local team in each site already has methods that they are used to and comfortable with and our international volunteers will have come with experience and new ideas to share. We believe that by encouraging the local team to walk through the problem and offer solutions themselves with the assistance of our team, we teach more than we could with a list of orders or a checklist.

Team members from Libya
Team members from LIbya

On our trips, time is rarely disposable so a lot of the learning is done hands on in the clinical setting though we often hold lectures and small workshops. The key to a successful trip is the development of professional relationships with the local team built on mutual respect, understanding and a common goal. We plan to visit each of our partner sites multiple times per year for several years and with time the local team becomes more independent and confident in their ability to manage the patients. This model of sustained, intermittent support has been very successful for us and now a number of our volunteers come from previously assisted sites.

Volunteers in hospital
Volunteers in hospital

At Cardiac Alliance we believe that every child matters but doing surgery on one child is not enough! By educating local healthcare professionals and empowering them to provide high quality care in their own region utilizing the available resources, we can ensure that the next hundred children (and the hundred after that) with heart disease have hope and access to the care they each deserve no matter where they are born. You can be a part of changing lives! Volunteer with us or Donate  today and help us fill the world with Happy hearts!

Two of the Most Important Aspects Of Our Work

Two of the Most Important Aspects Of Our Work

Ingenuity and patience are two very important aspects of our work around the world. 

When you’re involved with a new heart program in a war torn or developing country, you must be able to think on your feet. You can’t expect the same equipment or help you would get in a well-developed hospital!

For example Sergey, our anesthesiologist, slips two bags into the pocket of his scrubs. A surgery is in process, and he is managing two bags of platelets. Typical western hospitals have a machine to keep the platelets warm and agitated, but the hospital here in Libya is far from a typical western hospital. So Sergey uses his body heat to keep the platelets warm and the constant movement between the operating table and his supply station keeps the bags agitated.

Some issues are expected.

Several key pieces of equipment we are using to operate are borrowed—from other hospitals, and from our own store of equipment in the US.

And surgeries take longer when teaching local doctors and nurses, so our days are long. We continue to invest our knowledge and experience because they are keen to learn.

Some issues are unexpected.

David, our biomedical engineer, sent out for power strips when the ICU proved seriously short of outlets.

The ICU has become extremely hot and uncomfortable for our young patients. The mother of young Malak, a child now recovering from her recent heart surgery here in Libya, purchased an air conditioner for the unit. She and her daughter won’t benefit from the purchase since they’re headed home soon. But they did it for the other families still waiting their turn for surgery.

And then there are the daily periods where there is no water in the hospital. It always comes back, but on dry days we have to use saline to wash patients.

It would certainly be easier to work exclusively in more developed countries. But we choose to work where the needs are greatest.

Some issues are expect, others aren’t, but the opportunity to save children and serve families makes it all worth it!

A Video Update From Dr. Novick In Libya

A Video Update From Dr. Novick In Libya

We’re well into our second surgical mission here in Libya, and things are moving steadily along. Take two minutes to hear an update on our work, straight from Dr. Novick.

A Mother’s Wish

A Mother’s Wish

Brenda Kingsley is a mother who volunteers with Cardiac Alliance- here she shares her story with us.

Mother’s Day is very special to me, I have been blessed with five children and each of them have changed my life greatly. In 2004, I was pregnant with my fourth child and had gone in for a routine ultrasound. I was excited to see the baby, hear its heartbeat and find out whether it was a boy or girl.  However, the news my husband and I received wasn’t the exciting news that I thought we’d get. We were told that there was something wrong with our baby’s heart; hearing that was devastating. At the time, we lived in Alaska and were told that our baby would need to be born in Oregon in order to get the medical care she would need. We of course wanted the best care for this baby; we’d go anywhere and do anything to make that happen.

Hannah Spring 2009 049

My daughter, Hannah, was born in Portland, Oregon at 35 ½ weeks. She had her first open heart surgery at 8 days old, had her second surgery at 6 months old and she had her third surgery at 4 years old.  Our fear and anxiety grew with each surgery, not knowing if she would survive. Hannah was so tiny and the surgeries she underwent were tremendous. Seeing her after surgery with all the tubes and wires was heartbreaking.  When Hannah was a baby, she didn’t feed well, she slept more than the average healthy baby and she would turn a dusky blue color when she cried.  As Hannah grew, she couldn’t keep up with the other kids her age, her face always had a blue tinge, she easily got sick and she was a lot smaller than other kids her age. Watching my daughter struggle to survive on a day to day basis was hard; I smiled like everything was fine, but on the inside I was dying.  As a mom, my priority is to comfort my kids, protect them from as much as I can and whenever I see one of my children hurting, it hurts me down to my very core.  I would do anything for my children, they are my world. Living in the United States, I was able to find the medical care that Hannah needed and I am so thankful for the doctors and nurses who took care of my baby. This was the best gift that anyone could have ever given me.

Munam's mother worried

As this Mother’s Day quickly approaches, I want to challenge you to think outside the typical Mother’s Day gift and give a gift of hope to a mother who doesn’t have the resources that I had for my child. More than 90% of the world’s children born with congenital heart defects do not have access to life-saving care. These mothers are unable to provide the care for their children as the financial burden of traveling to America or Western Europe for the proper medical care is more than they can bare and the local doctors do not have the proper training to care for the child. Imagine being a mom in an underprivileged country, watching your sweet baby struggle to survive and knowing that the proper medical care is not available. The pain and anguish of that must be unbearable.  These are moms who love their children and want to give them the very best. Moms who want to see their kids grow up to be strong and healthy.  This Mother’s Day, consider giving a mother hope.  Hope that her child will get the medical care that they need. Imagine how life changing that hope would be to the mother, the family and to that precious child.

Munam and his mom after surgery

Help us make this Mother’s Day truly special for many families around the world by supporting Novick Cardiac Alliance. Our team of highly trained doctors and nurses are working to establish pediatric cardiac care units all over the world, where many children can be properly diagnosed, treated and cared for after surgery. Your generous donations will make this life-saving care possible for many children. Do something special this Mother’s Day and give a gift of hope!Matvey and mother