Local Heart Surgery Team Travels to Haiti; Performs 13 Surgeries in 9 Days

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One of the youngest patients at Clinique Lambert in Port-au-Prince, Haiti has recovered from her surgery performed by the Miller Children’s pediatric heart surgery team and other nurses and physicians from across the United States and France and awaits to be sent home.

One of the youngest patients at Clinique Lambert in Port-au-Prince, Haiti has recovered from her surgery performed by the Miller Children’s pediatric heart surgery team and other nurses and physicians from across the United States and France and awaits to be sent home.

In early September, several members of the pediatric heart surgery team at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to perform cardiac surgery on children with very critical heart conditions. During their nine day trip, the Miller Children’s team worked with a cardiac team composed of members from around the world to perform surgeries on a total of 13 children.

With no pediatric heart specialists in all of Haiti, the only way these children have cardiac surgery available to them is through mission trips. In association with Gift of Life International, the Miller Children’s pediatric heart care team along with the other physicians, nurses and perfusionists were able to bring much needed help to Clinique Lambert in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While there the team of experts screened more than 65 patients with various types of congenital heart defects and selected the 13 children with the most severe cases for surgery.

The pediatric heart team spent most of their nine days in Haiti performing surgeries of varying degrees of difficulty round-the-clock. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. children of ages ranging from 3-month-olds to 15-year-olds, were treated for congenital heart defects. The case mix included surgery to correct holes in the heart, narrowing of the aorta, repair of large patent ductus arteriosus (a condition where abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart) and complex tetralogy of fallot (a condition which involves various manifestations including decreased oxygen levels and heart failure). These were just some of the complex cases treated.

In order to continue bringing relief to pediatric heart patients in Haiti, Gift of Life International plans to make these life-saving mission trips multiple times a year.

“Bringing our skills to a place where they are much needed is the best feeling in the world,” says Jason Chmel C.C.P, pediatric perfusionist, Pediatric Heart Center, Miller Children’s. “It is very important that we offer up our specialty care and don’t waste an opportunity to save a helpless child’s life.”

“The resolve and ability of the Port-au-Prince and Haitian community to bounce back from the earthquake speaks volumes to their strength, determination and faith as a people. We were just happy to be able to contribute just a little,” says Shaun Setty, M.D., medical director, pediatric and adult congenital cardiac surgery, Miller Children’s.“Much more work is needed. The whole team was so efficient at transforming the clinic into a well-functioning cardiac hospital for one week. It was a joy to see their talent in action.”

The Miller Children’s surgery team that made the trip included pediatric cardiac surgeon, Shaun Setty, M.D.; pediatric perfusionist, Jason Chmel, C.C.P.; and cardiac operating room nurses, Nina Nagel, R.N. and Terrie Aguilar, R.N.

Dr. Setty performs cardiac surgery on a young patient at Clinique Lambert in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Dr. Setty performs cardiac surgery on a young patient at Clinique Lambert in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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