The Nationwide Children’s team who traveled to Cape Town included Dr. Marc Levitt, Surgical Director, CCPR, Dr. Rama Jayanthi, Chief of Urology; Dr. Kate Deans and Dr. Pete Minneci, pediatric surgeons and directors of the Center for Surgical Outcomes; Raj Thakkar, Richard Wood, and Victoria Lane, pediatric surgery/colorectal fellows; and Dr. Olamide Dairo, pediatric anesthesiologist.
Surgeons and nurses from collaborating teams in The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Israel and Seattle representing Colorectal Team overseas (CTO) joined the Nationwide Children's team for the surgical training mission.
Boarded flight out of Columbus to Washington, DC, to Dakar, Senegal, to Johannesburg, South Africa and finally to Cape Town, South Africa. Our hotel was called the Little Scotia. who provided transportation from the airport. We checked in around 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 4th , after 20 hours of travel. We woke up ready to go the next day!
We started our morning by going to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa to attend clinic. We had over 25 patients to evaluate that day in clinic and we got started right away. All children had received some level of care previously, but either needed surgical intervention to repair the work from the original surgery, or were evaluated and determined to be good candidates for the next step in their treatment, in line with protocol that we follow with our patients with similar conditions.
After the stress of our long travel and first day of clinic, a little R&R was needed. We took a day trip to Aquila where we had breakfast, then went on a safari to see the BIG 5: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and a white rhino. After our safari we had lunch at the reserve and then traveled back to Cape Town. That evening we had a colorectal group dinner at Tusca restaurant on the waterfront, in which I had my very first ostrich steak. Not bad.
On Sunday, our host institution Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital arranged a trip to Hermanus, South Africa. It was about a two-hour bus ride in which we passed some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. We were able to watch large whales in the ocean, which I have never seen before. Some inpiduals in the group were able to go out on kayaks in order to get an up close and personal view of the whales. We were grateful to be able to see more of this beautiful country.
We arrived to the hospital at 7:00 a.m. with ten duffel bags full of medical equipment and most importantly stuffed animals for the kids. We had a full day with two operating rooms (theatres) running. I scrubbed for a case with another pediatric surgery fellow from the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital Program in Cape Town, an attending from Paris, France, along with an attending from the Netherlands. What an experience, all of us with different levels of training who speak different languages with one common goal to operate and together, help a child. It turns out that the operating room conducts itself with a universal language. I will never forget this as my first experience operating in another country.
We again arrived at the hospital around 7:00 a.m. It was the first day of the South African training course. There were over fifteen countries represented with nine from Africa. We all learned a lot from Dr. Levitt and some the international faculty who gave talks on various topics from anorectal malformations, genetics, stoma complications, Hirschsprung Disease, along with many others. It was great to hear all of these international speakers who encounter some of the same questions and problems as we do.
We traveled to the hospital at 7:00 a.m. and I proceeded straight to the operating room to help get the cases started. The first case of the day for the course was a nine month old male with a recto-bladder neck fistula. I really enjoyed being a part of this case as myself and junior faculty from Red Cross Children’s got the case started. He was very interested in laparoscopy and wanted to see the technique I used. This was a great experience for me to show what I have learned over many years of training with respect to laparoscopy. There were other cases as part of the course that I learned from as well as the many lectures including that of the collaborative research methods from Drs. Kate Deans and Dr. Peter Minneci.
This was our last morning in Cape Town. After saying goodbye to our new friends from around the world we headed to the airport to catch our long flight back home.