Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mission Trip

I wanted to share the experience of my first Mission Trip.  I went with the World Pediatric Project (WPP), a wonderful organization with which I have a long relationship.  I have cared for many of their patients in the US but have not traveled with them (or any other organization).  Their website, which can be accessed HERE, tells the organization's story.  Two teams traveled together, our upper extremity team (see pictures) and the lower extremity team. 
WPP Mission Trip to St. Vincent.  Our two teams at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital

The Upper Extremity Team with Tina, Valerie, and Brinkley in front and Dave and I in the back.

Dr Gordon, my Washington University partner at St Louis Childrens Hospital and St Louis Shriners Hospital, has led many teams to Mission Trips including a number to St Vincents.  He led this trip and the Lower Extremity Team. 

This map highlights the Southern Caribbean islands.

While many of the pictured islands are tourist destinations, access to medical care, especially complex orthopedic care, can be limited.  The WPP has a number of people in the Southern Caribbean on various islands to help increase awareness and facilitate the care of kids with challenging orthopedic issues.

For several months prior to the trip, I reviewed emails, images and videos of potential patients with two goals.  First, we want to have a reasonable understanding of whether we can help kids in advance and second, we want to understand what supplies may be helpful.  We brought most of the supplies that we would need and, thankfully, planning was successful in this regard.  I should also note that this trip was not just about surgery.  Valerie, an outstanding hand therapist, was a key part of the team treating kids that did not need surgery and providing splints to surgical and nonsurgical patients.

The two team saw more than 120 patients on Sunday and then operated the rest of the week.  The Upper Extremity Team saw 40 children on Sunday and performed 18 total surgeries on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  We treated children with cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, birth anomalies, and brachial plexus palsy.  Each day was really busy but the local team (nurses, coordinators, hospital staff, etc) and our team worked so well together.

Clinic day on Sunday.  The waiting room was in the Courtyard of the Hospital.  We were able to evaluate 120+ children.

The Upper Extremity surgery team.

Part of our two surgery teams with one visiting surgeon from a nearby island.

The WPP local team who are one key to success.  Lucianne and Jackie are pictured here with Brinkley and myself.
Here are a few of the patients that we had a chance to evaluate and treat.
Sprengels Deformity

A growth arrest of the distal ulna

Birth brachial plexus palsy

This was a really great experience for all of us.  It was a privilege to take this trip and bring our experience to an area in which there is a need.  I would like to express my gratitude to the WPP and to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the Touching Hands Project (THP) which provided financial and other support for this trip!

Charles A. Goldfarb, MD
My Bio at Washington University
congenitalhand@wudosis.wustl.edu