Medical Missions for Children – Gitwe 2018

Medical Missions for Children – Gitwe 2018

Saturday, May 12

All team members arrived to Kigali, the capitol city of Rwanda, on Saturday evening. Gerard and family greeted the team at the Kigali airport and helped arrange transportation and load vans.


Tim Glidden posing alongside luggage and equipment packed for the trip

Sunday, May 13

Medical teams departed Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, mid-morning on Sunday with two large vans filled with 17 volunteers and nearly 30 large suitcases of supplies and equipment. After arriving in Gitwe, the team spent the afternoon and evening unloading and setting up patient and operating rooms. Local residents warmly welcomed the team at the entrance of the hospital. Volunteering surgeons as well as anesthesia and surgical residents screened nearly 30 patients to determine surgical eligibility and scheduling for the week.

View of hills in Gitwe, Rwanda

Potential patients waiting for screenings and welcoming the team to Gitwe Hospital

Surgical team checking out operating room

Unloading equipment bags from vans at Gitwe Hospital

Remaining team members prepared spaces and supplies for a smooth start to the week. Patients underwent consultations regarding thyroid and goiter conditions. Four nearly empty rooms were transformed into 2 functioning operating rooms, a preoperative area, and a recovery room.

Equipment being unpacked to set up an operating room

Supplies and equipment organized before surgeries began

Monday, May 14

Seven patients were treated on Monday, May 14. Procedures included right and left thyroid lobectomies, left hemithyroidectomies, and one excision of the right submandibular gland. In addition to Monday’s surgeries, the MMFC teams also screened over a dozen patients for thyroid procedures later in the week.

Dr. Merry Sebelik, from Emory University, Drs. Jagdish Dhingra, Zach Quay-de la Vallee, and Erin Haser from Tufts University, and Dr. Douglas Denys from Intermountain Medical Group formed the surgical team. Drs. Megan Chacon, Cale Kassel, Catrina Johnson, Archana Ramesh, CRNAs Tim Glidden and Ann Haasch, and OR nurses Lisa Bandow, Julie Hoffman, and Val Morales-Reigle from the University of Nebraska Medical Center formed the anesthesia team. Nurses Jana and Courteney from the University of Michigan oversaw nursing and recovery efforts.

Procedure in progress

Operating and recovery rooms

Tuesday, May 15

Eight patients were treated on Tuesday, May 15. Procedures included left and right thyroid lobectomies as well as left and right hemithyroidectomies. In addition, all seven patients from Monday were seen by the surgical and nursing teams before being discharged.

Dr. Douglas Denys from <Institution name> arrived Monday evening and joined the surgical team to assist with thyroid procedures for the rest of the week.

Ntirandeka Saaock, a Gitwe patient who had his thyroid removed in 2017, visited the team at the hospital today. Life has surely improved since his procedure. He is an incredible singer and could barely manage to sing with his thyroid issues. Since his procedure he can “sing and sing” all day long. He was so happy to receive surgery and wanted to come say hello and thank the medical staff for their work.

Nurse Jana with patient Yankurije, Jeanette

Wednesday, May 16

Six patients received operations on Wednesday. Those operations were among the largest and most complex cases of the week. Patients like 69 year old Mukanbenasebeya Lydia travelled long distances by foot to receive thyroid surgeries that will drastically improve their quality of life. Another handful of patients were screened for surgery to fill the remaining surgery times for the week.

Thyroid patient, Mukanbenasebeya Lydia, received surgery on Wednesday

Lots of excitement ensued when a nearby TV station crew visited Gitwe Hospital to capture procedures and interviews with the MMFC team.

Surgical and nursing teams followed up with thyroid patients from Tuesday’s operations.

Thursday, May 17

Seven surgeries were performed on Thursday, including right and left thyroid lobectomies, right and left hemithyroidectomies, and a left superficial parotid. Final lab results were received to complete the schedule for Friday’s list of procedures.

Zach Quay-de la Vallee completes a post-operation consultation with a patient

Patients being treated in recovery room

View from back of Gitwe Hospital overlooking laundering area and hills

Friday, May 18

The group rounded out the last day of operating with six surgeries. Thursday’s patients were seen by the surgical and nursing teams for final consultations to be discharged. After all procedures were complete, both local and visiting teams packed up remaining supplies and bags to plan for the trip back home.

The team screened nearly 80 patients for surgery and completed 33 total procedures over the course of the week. Patients, hospital staff, and local Gitwe residents were incredibly welcoming and gracious to the whole MMFC team; many were quick to share smiles, hugs, and handshakes throughout the trip.

Patients from Thursday waiting for their post-op consultations and discharge instructions

Local Gitwe staff with MMFC team members from Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, and Utah

Saturday, May 19

Surgical and nursing teams completed their final post-op consultations with Friday’s patients and bid farewell to the patients and hospital staff. All 18 MMFC team members made their way by van to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, to begin the long journey back to the US.