Luckily, our surgical center (built with support from USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program, with thanks to the generosity of the American people) has recently been outfitted with laparoscopic equipment, thanks to Dr. Pierre Theodore who coordinated donations from Stryker and Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon. This new equipment would allow Chief Surgeon Dr. Luther Ward and the surgical team to do the procedure without creating a huge incision in Nadine’s abdomen. This was to be the first laparoscopic operation done at SBH. The thoracic surgery team at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center consulted on the case and the laparoscopic procedure that Nadine needed. As Dr. Pierre Theodore explains, this consortium of industry, academia, and effective global health NGOs is what makes high-level care possible in such a resource-starved area:
As Dr. Theodore explained, “the global partnership between Johnson & Johnson, UCSF, Dr. Luther Ward’s leadership, and the excellent staff and facilities at SBH, is what makes it possible to bring advanced medical care to this very rural area of one of the poorest countries in the world.”
Nadine’s was a tricky case for the anesthesia team since they could only ventilate her functioning right lung for most of the procedure. Suddenly, partway through the procedure, a near-disaster struck: Nadine’s healthy lung became clogged with debris, blocking her only working airway. In order to keep her breathing, the team had to quickly and precisely roll the young girl onto her side, inflate both lungs, and unclog the working lung. These were a tense few seconds, as Dr. Ward described them later, but the team is used to working under pressure and they responded so quickly and efficiently that they were able to continue the surgery immediately, and Nadine did not suffer a dangerous loss of oxygen.
Dr. Ward had high praise for CRNA Tonine Abraham, who was the lead anesthetist on the case. “Tonine stayed composed throughout the procedure while performing maneuvers that were completely new to her and complicated by US standards.”
After a successful laparoscopic surgery and a few days of recovery in the post-operative ward, Nadine and her parents returned to their home in L’Azile, nearly two hours from Fond des Blancs, where Nadine’s 4 siblings and their extended family were waiting to welcome her home.