Making a Lasting Impact with Collaboration and Education

Today I asked Ethiopian urologist Dr. Melesse what it has been like to work side by side with CSI surgeon Dr. Francis Schneck. “I have the opportunity this week to learn from a surgeon who is absolutely extraordinary; more extraordinary than I could have ever imagined,” said Dr. Melesse. He also praises having the CSI team at the hospital, saying, “The way you people work together, the way you are a team, the way you work together with our people, the way you help our people. It is a gift.”

Asked why he chooses to practice at this very poor public hospital, he says, “Because this is where I am from; this is where my wife is from; this is where our son lives; this is our home. You look down the hallways here and can see how very, very poor these people are. They are lying in the halls waiting for help. For most of them, there is nothing we can do for them. They have nowhere else to go.”

Our CSI team has learned so much from Dr. Melesse, and it is our hope that we have been able to share skills that allow him to provide even more comprehensive care for his patients.

The operating rooms are very hot, especially with the powerful lights on. OR nurses Mary Johnson, Jodie Pelkey and Dee Vander Pol are doing a fantastic job of keeping everyone well hydrated and everything as sterile as possible. They are also thinking about future missions here and determining if there is an opportunity to leave some of our CSI supplies behind for our next mission.

Everyday it is a hunt for some needle in a haystack, and none of this would be possible without CSI Logistics General Extraordinaire George Steiner. No request is too daunting for George. Yesterday he was dispatched to find a very small fuse to fit in a cystoscope for the urology team. The fuse blew as it was turned on, and the patient, a young man who had been in a motorcycle accident, had been waiting all day. We cried with joy when we heard “George found the fuse.” He was high-fived like he was carrying the flaming Olympic torch the final distance. Way to go, George!

We would like to take a moment to thank Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew, a cardiologist at Hennepin County Medical Center and CSI volunteer. It was Dr. Ayenew who was aware of the serious cardiac issues of the children in Addis, and he was familiar with the hospital in Bahir Dar as well. He made the first overtures to Drs. Asnake and Melesse, who are now our main contacts here. This site is a dream CSI location.  Local physicians who not only want to offer free surgeries for their patients in dire need, but most importantly are committed and enthusiastic about learning to ultimately perform the surgeries independently.

The Cardiology team in Addis also had another great day, continuing to teach local cardiologists and nurses during three additional procedures. Their work is changing the lives of children and young adults. Here are some photos from their day.

By: Sally Lannin