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Perfusion Without Borders – Scholarship Winner

 

Each year, the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology offers a scholarship to one Perfusion student to travel on a medical mission trip with an organization of their choice. This year’s winner is perfusion student Amy Evans and she will be traveling with Novick Cardiac Alliance to Ukraine in December 2018.

Amy Evans is currently a second-year cardiovascular perfusion (CVP) student at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She has the privilege of being Class President for the MUSC CVP Class of 2019.

Amy Evans, Perfusion Student, USA

Amy tells us a bit about herself and her passion for pediatric perfusion:

I recently completed my first rotation at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where I discovered my passion for pediatric perfusion. I am currently completing my second rotation at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, MA. Prior to matriculating in the MUSC CVP program, I was a patient care technician on the MUSC Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Unit for three years. I learned more than I could have imagined about the life of a patient, healthcare workers, the health care system and effective collaboration during my time working as a patient care technician.

After completing the MUSC Global Health Certificate Program in May 2015, I had the opportunity to participate in a mission trip to Nicaragua with Palmetto Medical Initiative (now OneWorld Health). While in country, we stayed in El Viejo and traveled via bus to a different rural village each day, providing medical care. The first day we arrived to our clinic venue, I was in utter shock. First, the state of the school was disheartening, a disheveled metal roof covering a dirt floor with various brick walls distinguishing separate classrooms. However, as we drove closer, I saw nearly 150 individuals waiting in the debilitating summer heat, some sitting on the ground, others in dilapidated plastic chairs but all smiling and enthusiastic. This first encounter with the Nicaraguan peoples and countless other interactions reshaped my notion of the meaning of hope. This was a humbling experience in many ways: experiencing a new culture, gaining a new perspective to sustainable healthcare with limited resources, seeing the Lord in new ways, grasping the incredible accomplishments a motivated team can achieve, and a greater appreciation for all aspects of my life. As our team of fifty-one volunteers provided 1,032 Nicaraguans with healthcare in a span of five days, the dire need for healthcare providers was blatantly obvious.

This trip fueled my strong desire to serve on mission trips on a regular basis, which I plan to continue upon graduating from perfusion school.

My passion for cardiovascular perfusion stems from the invigorating responsibility and privilege of a patient to literally entrust their life in your hands, my fascination for human anatomy and physiology as well as the perpetual learning and challenges associated with the profession. I enjoy the challenge of critical thinking, improvisation and the ability of perfusionists to utilize their knowledge to make rapid, calculated adjustments to navigate life-threatening situations.

Cardiovascular perfusion is engrossing and intense, with an enthralling demand for the perfusionist to be prepared for uncertainty.

I am excited to continue learning the technicalities and intricacies of this unique profession, which will continue well beyond my graduation. I am inspired to become an exceptional perfusionist. However, this is more than great clinical practice; it requires a dedication to the profession, continuing education, involvement in national and state organizations, furthering education through mentorship, leadership, and giving back. I have begun delving into these various aspects of perfusion outside of the operating room and am excited for future opportunities to give back to the profession as well as continuing to help cardiac global outreach endeavors through mission work.

Being chosen for the AmSECT Perfusion Without Borders Scholarship is an honor and I plan to take full advantage of every minute of my time in Ukraine. Furthermore, I am grateful to Novick Cardiac Alliance for allowing students the privilege to participate in their mission trips. Ultimately, my tenacious desire for mission work is rooted in the reason I chose to become a perfusionist: to make a difference. Thus, my main goal for the Ukraine mission trip is to help bring quality, life-saving patient care to children in underserved areas that don’t have the privilege of easily accessible healthcare. Another goal for this mission trip is to learn the innovative techniques used by the team, making life-sustaining cardiothoracic surgery possible with limited resources. I am certain this trip will provide an unparalleled learning experience, both personally and professionally. I look forward to sharing my experience in Ukraine with my classmates, younger students, professors, clinical instructors and future colleagues, with hopes they would be inspired to participate in a mission trip too.

Cardiac Alliance is looking forward to having Amy join our team as a perfusion student in Ukraine!

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SUPPORTS NOVICK CARDIAC ALLIANCE TRIP TO LIBYA

Novick Cardiac Alliance completed a one month trip in Tobruk, Libya March 25 through April 22 2018. This entire trip was sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO). Over 30 children in Libya received life-saving heart surgery from our team and we helped educate the local Libyan surgeons, doctors and nurses. Cardiac Alliance would especially like to thank Dr Jaffar Hussain, Head of Mission and Country Representative for WHO for his tireless efforts to organize our trip.

Please take a moment and watch this special video recognizing our efforts in Libya with the support of WHO.

Cardiac Alliance’s collaboration in war-torn Benghazi brings sustainable healthcare to children

Reuters journalist Ayman al-Warfalli recently interviewed our team in Libya, where there are “more than 300 kids waiting for open heart surgery, maybe 400.” Cardiac Alliance strives to maintain our collaboration with the hospital in Benghazi to care for these children in need.

Read the Reuters article to learn about the desperate need for sustainable healthcare in Libya.

With your support, we can continue our education programs to save more children in countries like Libya.

4 Reasons We Provide Heart Surgeries in a War Zone

4 Reasons We Provide Heart Surgeries in a War Zone

Libya is a country in turmoil, with a health care infrastructure that is falling apart. We get criticized sometimes for continuing to go to Libya to perform lifesaving heart surgeries in the midst of the violence and chaos.

‘They need aid’ is what we hear in America, when the topic of Libya comes up.

Here are four reasons why we provide heart surgery in a war zone like Libya:

  1. Libyans know what they need—and they asked us to come.

Libyans are savvy. They care for their own people. They want to provide what their people need. It isn’t helpful to come from the outside, without intimately knowing the situation on the ground, and assuming to know better.

  1. By teaching best ICU care practices, preservation of sterilization in the operating room, and echocardiogram diagnosis techniques—as well as surgical techniques—we raise the level of care across the board.

Local medical staff who master best practices in care of young heart surgery patients are able to apply those skills in every other hospital department.

  1. When we teach the skills required to perform pediatric heart surgeries, local medical staff can then handle whatever gets thrown at them.

When doctors and nurses become skilled healing the smallest, most vulnerable patients, with incredibly challenging heart defects, they have the skills needed to handle trauma, and any other condition they might be presented with.

  1. It’s within our hands to do.

We aren’t the UN. We aren’t the World Food Programme. Thankfully, those groups already exist to provide broad relief aid.

We are focussed on the immediate needs of Libyan children who need heart surgeries to live, as well as a medical system which requires more trained medical personnel to care for their own citizens.

We are focussed on what is needed right now. But at the same time, we are able to help bring positive systemic change. We all have the ability to contribute to the stabilization of Libya—this is how we do it.

Stories from Iran—Dr. Novick’s Tenacity

Stories from Iran—Dr. Novick’s Tenacity

“You’ll never be able to give away heart surgeries to kids around the world, Bill. There’s no money in that.”

This is what then-resident Dr. Novick’s faculty adviser told him when he got back from his first heart surgery trip to Honduras.  But he had found what he wanted to do with his life, and nobody was going to keep him from operating on children in places where they couldn’t otherwise get access.

Dr. Novick knew something that his adviser didn’t: this is what he was made to do. He saw in Honduras that these children can’t wait for conflicts to end, governments to invest in healthcare, or economies to turn around.

They couldn’t wait, and neither could he.

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Today, Dr. Novick and his teams have provided 8,000 children in developing countries with a heart operation since that adviser told him it couldn’t be done.  That’s a tribe of people who have gone to school, celebrated birthdays, had children of their own—they have a story and will live to adulthood because people said “yes” to Dr. Novick when he asked them to go with him to educate local surgeons and nurses to save their own children and their next generation of children born with heart defects.

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This year, one of Dr. Novick’s “heart surgery kids” is hoping to have her own children. She is ready to be a mother, but her heart isn’t  strong enough for that yet. Dr. Novick and his team is going back to give her the surgery she needs to make this possible..

He’s never finished.

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3 Kids In The ICU: Same Surgery, VERY Different Needs

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As soon as Muttah woke up after his heart surgery, he squawked from morning till night. He repeated the same motion over and over, throwing his little hands over his head, then back down to his sides. Over and over, for hours at a time. If Muttah wasn’t sleeping or eating he was squawking and flapping.

ICU staff wondered if he might have neurological issues. It’s not uncommon for children with congenital heart defects to have other physical complications. Nurses took turns rocking his bed when he became too fussy. They tried to comfort with softly spoken words, and pats on his back. Muttah just fussed. But his heart was healing well, and the squawking helped his lungs to clear, so nurses made him as comfortable as possible, and kept a close eye on him.

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Everything became clear once Muttah was well enough to remove all of the tubes his body needed to heal. Muttah is part of a huge family. Betwen being an adorable baby, having a serious heart defect, and having so many hands at home to hold him, Muttah rarely spent time outside of someone’s arms. The whole time Muttah squawked and flapped, he was asking to be held! When Muttah was free from his bed, and held by his mother, he was finally still.

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Mawada cried a lot after her heart surgery. Some children have hardy temperaments—they hardly cry at all during recovery. Mawada was not one of those children. It wasn’t her tears that pulled so strongly at our hearts. It was her expression. Mawada was inconsolable, despite her mother’s near constant presence at her bedside.

In time it became clear that Mawada’s pain didn’t have a physical cause—it had little to do with the fact that her chest had been opened and her heart mended. No, her pain was emotional. At six years old, Mawada was already responsible for helping to care for her younger brother. She missed him! She was worried for him—from the moment she woke after her own heart surgery, Mawada was worried about her brother.

Mawada’s father died more than three years ago. She, her mother, and younger brother were a tight little unit within their larger family. Absence was painful! She didn’t crack a smile until just before she was released from hospital, when she knew she would see her brother soon.

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When Othman woke after his surgery, he asked for water. Then he asked for juice. Again and again. Less than an hour after heart surgery, Othman was awake and demanding juice. His voice was still hoarse from the effects of anesthesia, but he was persistent.

“Juice! Juice! Juice!”

His surgery was the kind you hope every child to have—quick, efficient, effective. But Othman woke up THIRSTY! He had been fasting since the previous evening, and his stomach was definitely not happy!

It was still too soon after surgery for juice, so a volunteer nurse distracted Othman with a game on her phone. He played like a boss! But during every lull in the game, he asked for juice.

One of the local nurses comforted Othman, giving him encouragement in his own language. But Othman used the attention for only one thing: to ask for juice!

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“Juice! Juice! Juice!”

Othman got his juice eventually. He drank until he was finally satisfied.

There is a saying in the intensive care unit—kids aren’t always themselves during recovery, but they will always be themselves again before they go home.

True for every child! In the end, every one left with a smile.

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