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Take Heart mission for paediatric heart surgeries

The Emirates Airline Foundation sponsored a team of volunteer heart surgeons from the US, working with the organisation Take Heart, on a mission that delivered successful open heart surgeries to 10 young patients in Kenya. The foundation has worked with Take Heart on previous missions, last year sponsoring a team of 12 surgeons to perform nine surgeries.

This year’s twelve-day mission took place in Bomet, Kenya at Tenwek Hospital. The team of volunteers from the USA’s Maine Medical Center consisted of two surgeons (Reed Quinn MD, Robert Kramer MD), an anaesthesiologist ( Nancy Boulanger, MD), a paediatric critical care specialist ( Eric Gunnoe, MD), a microbiologist (Nancy Gunnoe, MS) and a perfusionist, (Robert Groom, CCP).

Take Heart mission for paediatric heart surgeries

The mission was an extraordinary success. Cardiac surgery was provided to 10 patients including patients from Ghana and Zambia. One of the highlights of the trip was providing life-saving surgery for Elah, an eight-month-old with a large VSD weighing 4.6 kilograms from Ghana. She is the smallest patient to receive open heart surgery at Tenwek to date.

Another patient was a 22-year-old woman who was 25 weeks pregnant came to the clinic with severe mitral stenosis, shortness of breath and heart failure. The following day the team performed successful closed mitral valve commissurotomy which lead to an immediate reduction of her left atrial pressure and relief of her pulmonary edema.

By far the most significant accomplishment was the collaboration between the Tenwek Hospital staff and the Maine Medical Center Team. Striving together to treat each patient was rich with opportunities for both parties.

Take Heart mission for paediatric heart surgeries

“I wish to express our gratitude to the Emirates Airline Foundation for its support for our cardiac mission to Tenwek Hospital,” said Robert Groom, CCP, who volunteered on the mission. “The mission was a success in that we were able to work alongside local clinicians to provide open heart surgery for 10 patients. The complexity and young age of these children was beyond the capability of the local hospital. However, together with our team these patients could receive the heart surgery that they desperately needed and the local team could also advance their skills so that in the future they will be able to provide care to such patients,” he added.

Take Heart mission for paediatric heart surgeries

The Take Heart team participated at their own expense and used their annual paid time off to take part in the mission. The Emirates Airline Foundation sponsored air tickets for the team’s travel to Kenya from the US through to Skywards Miles donated to the foundation by Emirates customers.

Take Heart has two more cardiac missions planned in 2015. If you would like to support missions like this one by donating Miles to the Emirates Airline Foundation, log in to your Emirates Skywards account.

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