First full day in the hospital

We were welcomed with open arms. It is amazing the quality of care the hospital team provides despite limited resources. There are so many children in need of airway surgery because the tubes that the Dominican Republic has to put children on breathing machines predispose the airway to a lot of scarring.

We were able to do three cases (two airway reconstructions and one bronchoscopy). The team in the OR was great. We even had the opportunity to work with two of the ENT residents. They were very excited to learn the new procedures.

Unfortunately, the young man who had the bronchoscopy performed had to much airway inflammation to do his airway reconstruction at this time. He was already asking when we would be able to come back and help him.

The first case was a 9 year old girl with a big scar in her airway who had a very poor voice quality. Her brother had a similar condition and passed away at 10 months of age. She had a surgery performed 2 years ago but had a lot of swelling afterwards and had to have an emergent tracheotomy

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The second airway reconstruction was a 14 year old who had trauma after a horse accident. He was intubated and on a breathing machine for 23 days, developing pneumonia in the process. Due to the long term intubation, he developed a lot of scarring above his trach and was unable to breathe without the trach.

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Despite the pouring rain in Santo Domingo, we had a wonderful evening. Upon arrival to the hospital, we were warmly welcomed by Dr. Marco Mirambeaux.  We were able to meet five lovely children with airway obstruction, looking for help opening their airways in order to eventually be without their tracheotomies. They were thrilled to see us and many of them were grinning ear to ear (even though we scoped all of them).

We will do our first two major procedures tomorrow morning and do a diagnostic bronchoscopy in the afternoon. We have a wonderful team including:

Christopher Hartnick, MD (Pediatric Otolaryngologist)

Nathan Noviski, MD (Pediatric Intensivist)

Phoebe Yager, MD (Pediatric Intensivist)

Carissa Wentland, DO (Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellow)

Jennifer Samiotes, RN (Pediatric Critical Care Nurse)

Sarah Buck, RN (Pediatric Critical Care Nurse)

WELCOME!

Hello everyone!  Welcome to the adventure that is Operation Airway!  We are a group of physicians from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) whose mission is to make life changing airway reconstructive surgery and postoperative care available to all children who cannot breathe or speak on their own. 

The Operation Airway Fund at MEEI was created in 2011 to help provide care globally to children with various breathing problems.  This money is raised through a variety of avenues, from the Red Sox foundation to the Operation Airway team in the Boston Marathon.  We are grateful to all of our generous donors for supporting this ambitious endeavour. 

Not only is our goal to provide care for these children with airway problems, but we also aim to educate the local physicians on surgical and medical care of these complex patients so that when we leave, they will be able to provide the same care to these unfortunate children and families.  As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  We have been fortunate to work with wonderful local physicians who are always so welcoming and gracious.

So far, we have been on 5 trips to Ecuador.  This fall marks the 6th trip, and we are thrilled about returning!  We have created this blog so you can see what we are all about.  In the future, we plan on expanding to other countries as well, so stay tuned to hear about all of our adventures!