ENT Surgical Team Annual Volunteer Trip

Annual Volunteer Trip Takes UM Surgical Team to Fiji to Treat Patients with Head and Neck Conditions

Update (2/21/16): This past weekend, Fiji was devastated by Cyclone Winston.  All 12 members of the UM surgical team are OK and awaiting the international flight home.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Fiji as they struggle to rebuild, and we pray for the families who lost loved ones and whose homes were destroyed.

We are exceptionally proud of the courage and dedication of our mission team. They saw over 100 patients over the course of their stay and completed a large number of surgeries. The actions of these selfless individuals embody many of the reasons that individuals choose medicine as a career and many of the reasons that a number of clinicians volunteer for such medical missions.


University of Maryland head and neck surgeons Rodney Taylor, MD and Jeffrey Wolf, MD have seen first-hand how devastating cancer and other conditions of the head and neck area can be for some patients.  Not only do certain types of conditions undermine their health, but they can also be disfiguring and carry social stigmas.

Dr. Wolf

Dr. Jeffrey Wolf

Dr. Taylor

Dr. Rodney Taylor

“Many times people with head and neck conditions are ostracized from their communities and go into hiding. These conditions can be life-altering,” says Dr. Wolf. He and Dr. Taylor are associate professors of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who treat patients at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

The doctors are determined to help. Each year, a team of University of Maryland Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists (led by Drs. Taylor and Wolf) travel to a different under-served part of the world to provide their services free of charge. The team pays 100 percent of their own way, including airfare, shipping costs for their equipment and the cost of purchasing additional supplies not available onsite.

This year, the UM medical mission boasts 12 volunteers – surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents and nurses. This specialized ENT team will travel a total of 29 hours by plane, boat and car to Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu. There they will operate out of the Mission at Natuvu Creek, a nonprofit model community that provides medical and educational services to rural people of Fiji.

This visit will mark the first time Vanua Levu has been visited by ENT, head and neck surgeons, and the team is eager to start helping those in need. They expect to see a lot of patients with disfiguring conditions, such as cancer, and those with goiters (enlarged thyroids) and parotid tumors (on the salivary glands). The team will care for as many patients as they can during their week-long stay in Vanua Levu.

The trek will be long, and the medical team is hopeful the surgeries will be successful.

The team heads to Fiji on February 12.

Donations will help defray the cost of travel and other expenses. Learn more about how to donate here: http://www.marylandentmissions.org/donate

For more information on the Mission at Natuvu Creek, visit their website: http://natuvu.org/

Nurses Run for their ‘Heart Kids’

By Jen Arrington, MS, RN, CPN, and Kristen Fantel, BSN, RN, CEN

On Oct. 12, 17 nurses and friends of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) will be running in the Baltimore Running Festival to raise money for the UMMC Children’s Heart Program. When people ask us why we run, there’s one easy answer. We run for patients like Brandon Kerrigan and all of the heart kids that we care for everyday.

When Brandon celebrated his 15th birthday on Aug. 16, no one had any idea that two days later he would be fighting for his life. Brandon was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, and went into cardiac arrest while being flown from Easton to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Once Brandon was stabilized, his family was told that he would need a heart transplant. Since his arrival to the PICU, Brandon has been determined to get strong while he waits for his heart. He charms the nurses and staff with his bright smile and Nerf guns, just trying to be a normal 15-year-old, while cooped up in the hospital. You can see how charming he is in this picture of us with him at the bottom of our team page.

Brandon is only one example of a patient we are running for. We care for many cardiac patients in collaboration with the Children’s Heart Program. This program provides comprehensive cardiac care for children with a wide range of conditions — from rhythm abnormalities to childhood hypertension, from heart murmurs to serious birth defects requiring complicated heart surgery. While we care for these complex patients, they quickly become a part of our unit – we offer an encouraging smile to their parents in the hallway, we say our silent prayers. And on good days – we dodge Nerf guns as we enter the patient’s room.

The strength and resilience of these children, who battle against all odds, is simply inspiring. As nurses, we are often left with the feeling of wanting to do more. We carefully assess these patients for any changes in condition, we give medications, we advocate for their every need, and we attempt to play and create normalcy whenever we can. But we want to do more.

This is why we decided to run as part of the Children’s Heart Team. We don’t have a miracle drug and we can’t take away the heartache in the eyes of the parents of these patients. But we can run.

As with all of the patients we care for, the teamwork involved in the care of these patients is also inspiring. The team includes Nurses, Doctors, Child Life Specialists, Respiratory Therapists, OR and Cath Lab Staff, Rehabilitation Services – and many, many other people who deserve to be celebrated.

This strong team work was the inspiration for our fundraising efforts. We created a T-shirt that recognizes this team effort, and we are selling the T-shirt around the hospital in order to raise money for the Children’s Heart Program.

In addition to the shirt, we are also hosting a fundraiser at a local restaurant. Join us on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Blue Hill Tavern in Canton. The restaurant will be donating 20% of its proceeds from the day to our cause. Schedule a lunch with your co-workers, dinner with your family, or join the PICU nurses for Happy Hour – and help an important cause.

Want to join us in our effort to do more? Contact us! Maybe today we can give back a little bit of the inspiration that we have received from these amazing children.

To make a donation: http://www.ummsfoundation.org/picuheart

The ‘Seeker’ Gives Through a Living Kidney Donation

Matthew Taylor writes about “living an authentic life in a world of artifice” in his blog, “The Seeker.” This week, he posted a frank and engaging piece about donating one of his kidneys to his wife, who suffered from polycystic kidney disease.  Here’s an excerpt:

“After some soul searching, I decided to give her one of mine. It was not an easy decision to make since there were many factors to consider, but I am at peace with it now. In fact, I’ve come to appreciate some things about a kidney transplant that I never would have thought of before.”

Taylor, a writer who lives in Rockville, Md., gave the University of Maryland Medical Center, where his donation and his wife’s transplant were performed, permission to direct readers to his post,  “25 Ways to Appreciate a Kidney Transplant.”

The University of Maryland Medical Center is home to the second-largest kidney transplant program in the country. The surgeons involved in Taylor’s donation and his wife’s transplant were Michael Phelan, MD; David Leeser, MD; and Stephen Bartlett, MD.

UMMC Mentorship Plants Seeds of Discovery With Local Student

by Lauren Goldschen

As a rising senior at Atholton High School in Howard County in August of 2010, I was excited to start my Intern/Mentor Program provided through my school. This program encourages students within the Gifted and Talented Program to apply for internships/mentorships with professionals who hold careers students admire. I’ve always wanted to become a doctor, and I envisioned my mentor as a local physician who would teach me how to schedule patients and take vital signs.  I did not anticipate that the reality of my internship would actually entail observing transplant surgeries and becoming a published author in the #1 peer-reviewed surgery journal, Annals of Surgery.

Finding a mentor for the program was certainly a struggle as I applied to numerous physicians throughout the area. My high school teacher, Mrs. Natalie Kelly, and I received numerous rejections from local physicians. I stumbled upon the University of Maryland Medical Center’s (UMMC) website, which conveniently listed physicians’ names with contact information and their ongoing research projects. I selected a variety of doctors and sent emails explaining the intern/mentor program and asking if they would serve as my mentor.

Although I anticipated more negative feedback, I was amazed that multiple doctors at UMMC responded and agreed to participate as my mentor. It was even more incredible that the first positive response came from Dr. Stephen Bartlett,  Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Chair, Department of Surgery at UMMC, and Surgeon-in-Chief and Vice President of the University of Maryland Medical System, who graciously agreed to serve as my mentor.

On my first day with Dr. Bartlett, I watched him perform a kidney transplant. And on my second day, I met Dr. Bartlett’s colleague,  Dr. Rolf Barth, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and transplant surgeon at UMMC, who would become another one of my mentors.

My internship project was to compare patient satisfaction rates of living kidney donors who donated via the novel single-port donor nephrectomy versus living donors who donated via the standard multiple port technique. UMMC’s single-port donor nephrectomy utilizes a single incision in the belly button to remove a kidney from living donors. UMMC was the only the third hospital in the country to adopt this single incision donation technique as the standard of care for all living kidney donors.

The UMMC transplant team believed that this technique, which is more cosmetically appealing and less invasive, could attract more living kidney donors and help decrease the growing kidney transplant wait list. But before the procedure could be promoted, the surgeons first needed to determine if donors preferred this novel single-incision procedure to the standard multiple port procedure.

I began my internship project by writing a survey for living kidney donors that addressed their pain levels after donation and satisfaction rates with the overall donation process. The surveys were distributed to UMMC donors of both the novel single-port and the standard procedure. Read about the survey data that were published in the Annals of Surgery.

My internship was extremely rewarding and memorable, and I’m continuing my internship with the transplant team now as a college student. I enjoy accompanying the doctors on hospital rounds and observing the transplant surgeons interact with their patients. There have been numerous teachable moments, especially in the operating room in which I get to learn about anatomy from a truly unique perspective. I also value the advice that both Dr. Bartlett and Dr. Barth share with me regarding college decisions and future medical career plans.

Although I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, I had never before considered the research aspect of medicine. However, this internship experience has certainly sparked my research curiosity. Currently, I work in a cell biology lab studying the aging process of kidneys, and this summer I am again working at UMMC with Dr. Bartlett and Dr. Barth to investigate the transplant results of different immunosuppressant drugs.

This fall I will be a sophomore Biology Major/Spanish Minor at the University of Pittsburgh. I plan to attend medical school, and due to the wonderful opportunities provided by Dr. Bartlett, Dr. Barth, and the UMMC team, I know that research will always be a fundamental part of my medical career.

A Mission to Ecuador for Pediatric Heart Surgeon

By Meghan Scalea

UMMC Communications Account Leader

Sunjay Kaushal, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at UM School of Medicine and director of pediatric cardiac surgery at UMMC, recently returned from a medical mission to Ecuador, where he performed life-saving heart surgeries on nearly 20 children who would have died without surgery.

 

Dr. Kaushal, a father of two, is a huge advocate for kids. This medical mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, was his fifth trip with the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), a group dedicated to providing supplies, training and surgical resources to care for underprivileged children with heart disease in dozens of countries around the world.

According to the ICHF, 1% of the world’s population is born with heart disease, only about one-third is diagnosed, and even fewer receive life-saving heart surgery. Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect in the world.

“There is a huge surplus of kids with congenital heart disease,” says Kaushal. “Traveling with this group allows me to provide free health care for children who wouldn’t otherwise be treated.”

Joining him in Ecuadorwas UMMC certified surgical technologist, Nicolette Dupuis, who supports Dr. Kaushal in his pediatric heart surgeries in the OR in Baltimore. This marked Dr. Kaushal and Ms. Dupuis’s third medical mission trip together. During their week inEcuador, they worked with cardiologists and intensivists from hospitals around theU.S. in the sparse operating rooms.

 “Part of our job while we were inEcuadorwas to teach the local medical professionals to do congenital heart surgeries like we do, but on a smaller level,” says Dr. Kaushal. “Our day began at 7:30 am, and we’d operate until 9:00 pm. We staffed the ICU 24/7 during the time we were there to make sure those children had the post-operative care they needed.”

Dr. Kaushal is the only board-certified congenital heart surgeon inMaryland, giving him a unique expertise in performing surgical procedures on babies just a few days old who were born with heart disease, children with congenital and acquired heart disease, and adults living with heart conditions they developed as babies, known as adult congenital heart disease.

Dr. Kaushal performs the most complex pediatric heart surgeries available today, including surgeries for babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Tetralogy of Fallot and ventricular septal defect, and those in need of pulmonary valve replacement. He is also preparing to open a clinical trial that will use a baby’s own stem cells to regenerate the underdeveloped portion of their heart caused by hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

We invite you to learn more about what Dr. Kaushal and the Children’s Heart Program at UMMC are doing for children within the Mid-Atlantic region.

Arthritis and Joint Problems Sideline NFL Pros and Weekend Warriors Alike

Robert Sterling, MD

Robert Sterling, MD

By Robert D. Sterling, MD
Associate Professor of Orthopaedics

Ouch! As you can imagine when you see a player get sacked, years on the football field can take their toll! A 2008 University of Michigan study of retired NFL players found that, compared to the general public, these former football greats have a very high rate of diagnosed arthritis. Their joints are, plain and simple, just worn out. So of the older retirees in this study, almost 25 percent have had at least one joint replacement. The vast majority have had knees replaced. Hips replacements are less common.

So as some great athletes take to the field this Super Bowl XLVI weekend, some of us former “great” athletes may be wondering if that creaky knee or aching hip needs a possible replacement. When is the right time to see a doctor about it? Listen to your body, and it will tell you: If you are experiencing pain, swelling or stiffness in one of your joints, now is a good time to get checked out.

During your evaluation, we will get a full history of your complaints and examine your joints to figure out why you are having pain. This history and physical exam is often followed by an x-ray to look at your bones. The first steps we try for treatment of arthritis usually involve exercise, weight reduction, knee braces, and medications to help your pain.

Whether you want to get back on a field or just back to playing with grandkids, diagnosis and appropriate treatment of any joint pain should be the next step in your training program.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact the University of Maryland Department of Orthopaedics at 877-771-4567.

Mitral Valve Repair Lets Marathon Runner Boogie at Son’s Wedding

By Nick Papas

I had just completed the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon. It was not my best time. There was no personal record that day. It was a day marked by a continued struggle with a chronic heel injury.  But there was something more serious brewing in my body that day. It was a particularly strong flare-up of my mitral valve pain. I was so familiar with the pain. It had been diagnosed and studied throughout my life. I had mitral valve prolapse. 

 So, I brushed off the chest pain as I slogged through the marathon and finished.

Then a couple hours later, as the marathon and half-marathon runners of our family celebrated with extended family and supportive friends, I shared my personal marathon experience with my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Beth Ann. My tale included the throw-away detail about my old familiar chest pains. No big deal. Or so I thought.

 Beth Ann, a medical student, was not as flippant as I was about the little detail of chest pain.  She pulled out her stethoscope and diagnosed me on the spot as having mitral valve regurgitation. She strongly suggested that I see my PCP. I was stubborn and a bit incredulous. I didn’t rush.

 Eventually my heart acted up in such new and painful ways that I was compelled to go to my doctor. This set into motion the chain of events that lead me to Dr. James Gammie at UMMC.

An initial link in this chain was me doing my homework. I read the scientific papers. I consulted with knowledgeable, trusted people and friends.

 I had to make my decision: Was I, a man who loves to be active by running and biking, going to be happy taking drugs? Would I be satisfied watching my body get weaker and weaker while my heart became more and more sick?

 Ultimately, the decision was a no-brainer.

 I took action right away, partially because I concluded that it was the right thing to do and partially because my son’s wedding was just around the corner. I wanted to be healed enough to dance at my son’s wedding.

My surgery was performed at UMMC on September 6, 2011. Noah and Beth Ann were married October 8, 2011! I am happy to say I danced! I danced quite a bit! My wife, Patty (in the photo with me), and I had a great time.

 I am grateful not only to be alive but to be living. I am optimistic that with my newly repaired, healthy heart I will be able to enjoy the coming years with my family and to live these years actively. 

In the future, look for me in the 2012 Baltimore Half or Full Marathon. I’m the self-proclaimed, 52-year old, poster “child” of UMMC Mitral Valve Repairs!

 

 

Mitral Valve Surgery: Why We Operate on the Heart from the Right Side

The launch of our new minimally invasive mitral valve surgery print ad, which has appeared in many publications, including The Washington Post Magazine, has generated several e-mails and blog posts from people questioning the accuracy of the image, which features a chest with the incision location – under the right breast – highlighted.

Dr. James Gammie, a UMMC  cardiac surgeon who specializes in mitral valve repair, said patients are surprised to learn the incision site is under the right, and not the left, breast.

So what’s the story? The heart’s mitral valve is located in the center of the chest, and Dr. Gammie said the best way to approach the valve is through the upper chambers of the heart, which are on the right side of the chest.

Dr. Gammie also talks about his passion, and the benefits to patients, of repairing vs. replacing the mitral valve, which UMMC does more than 90 percent of the time. As for the comments about the incision location, he says he encourages patients to ask questions, and that the more informed patients are the better.

New Perioperative (Surgical) Services Web Site Helps Patients Prepare for Surgery

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

Preparing for a surgical procedure can be a stressful time for patients and their families. The more you know about what to expect, though, the better you may feel about this process. The University of Maryland Medical Center has created a Web site to explain the process in detail, and to answer many of the questions you and your family may have.

Some of the things you will find on our new Perioperative (Surgical) Services Web site include:

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please call the PREP Center at 410-328-5750.

Triple Hernia Repair Patient Calls Care “Fantastic”

By David Barrow

On January 20, 2011, I had a triple hernia repaired laparoscopically by Dr. Patricia Turner. I have to say the care both my wife and I were given by the entire staff was fantastic.

My wife and I don’t live in Baltimore; we live in a small town 75 miles west of the city and don’t know our way around. From the preop visit to the surgery, every person we dealt with from the admin staff (person in lobby telling me where to go in such a large facility and the check in staff the day of the surgery), nurses (both preop and PACU) and doctors were professional and took the time to answer all my questions.

The day of the surgery, we had to be at the hospital for 12 hours, and the staff helped my wife find places to eat and helped get her internet access so she could keep our family members up-to-date on the surgery’s progress.

The hospital should be proud that they have such high-quality staff members that made an uncomfortable day tolerable.

Thank you,
David Barrow