Heart surgery project underway; Five completed; Forty six to go

A Little Frightened - Heart patients in our 'Group 1' from Tarawa arrive in Dallas after more than 18 hours in the air. Meeting them at the airport is team leader cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore MD along with PIMA president Carlton Smith

A Little Frightened – Heart patients in our ‘Group 1’ from Tarawa arrive in Dallas after more than 18 hours in the air. Meeting them at the airport is team leader cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore MD along with PIMA president Carlton Smith

Our Pacific Islands Medical Aid heart surgery program is now well underway, with five patients saved and 46 to go!

In early February, we brought five patients from the island of Tarawa in the central Pacific island nation of Kiribati for open-heart surgery at Baylor Scott and White Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas. Surgeries were all successful and patients have now returned home. They can expect a full life, according to our heart team leader, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD.

A total of 51 patients were identified needing life-saving surgery when our PIMA heart team traveled to Tarawa and the neighboring island of Tabiteuea North last October, where the team examined more than 400 showing signs of heart trouble.

Thankful patients — Just prior to returning to their home island in late February_ patients thank everyone involved for saving their lives. Posing in this _cake photo_ with the patients is team leader Dr. David Moore_ MD.

Thankful patients - Just prior to returning to their home island in late February, patients thank everyone involved for saving their lives. Posing in this 'cake photo' with the patients is team leader Dr. David Moore, MD.

Thankful patients – Just prior to returning to their home island in late February, patients thank everyone involved for saving their lives. Posing in this ‘cake photo’ with the patients is team leader Dr. David Moore, MD.

Thankful patients – Just prior to returning to their home island in late February, patients thank everyone involved for saving their lives. Posing in this ‘cake photo’ with the patients is team leader Dr. David Moore, MD.

Team members included Dr. Moore, cardiac sonographer Michael Rampoldi, nurse Amy Moore and Carlton Smith, PIMA president.

“It’s a big effort, but we are committed to bringing all remaining heart patients to the U.S. for surgery to save these lives, with the help of our donors (you), Baylor Heart Hospital, Dr. Moore and his team of heart surgeons at Cardiac Surgery Specialists in Plano, the Kiribati Ministry of Health, and others,” Carlton said.

“Personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Fiji (the closest to Kiribati) have also reached out to help by assisting us in getting U.S. visas for the patients in an expedited way, for which we are very grateful,” Smith said.

Six more ill islanders are scheduled to arrive in Plano early this month, to be followed by four to six patients each month until the job is done.

Please help by donating for housing, meals, local transportation, visa fees and other expenses. We need all the help we can get, Carlton said, where 100 percent of money donated will go directly to help the heart patients.

Six more ill islanders are scheduled to arrive in Plano early this month, to be followed by four to six patients each month until the job is done.

Noted diabetes specialist set to mount prevention program

In an effort to help combat an overwhelming epidemic of adult onset diabetes and massive leg and foot amputations in the isolated Pacific island nation of Kiribati, volunteer Pacific Islands Medical Aid endocrinologist Dr. Elizabeth Beale, MD has organized a team to study and treat the affliction on Christmas Island later this month.

Studies show that more than 30 percent of adults in Kiribati are suffering with type 2 diabetes, she said, one of the highest rates in the world.

Diabetes Specialist Dr. Elizabeth Beale, MD., shown with Kiribati nurse on previous visit, is mounting another trip to Kiritimati in the central Pacific this month to help organize treatment programs and research to help in a part of the world where more than 30 percent of adults suffer with diabetes.

Diabetes Specialist Dr. Elizabeth Beale, MD., shown with Kiribati nurse on previous visit, is mounting another trip to Kiritimati in the central Pacific this month to help organize treatment programs and research to help in a part of the world where more than 30 percent of adults suffer with diabetes.

“Dr. Beale and her team plan to travel to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) March 15-22 at the invitation of the Kiribati Ministry of Health with two overall goals in mind,” said Carlton Smith, president of Pacific Islands Medical Aid, Inc.

The first aim of the visit is to establish a basic, sustainable diabetes treatment and foot care program. Secondly, they plan to collect preliminary data on the prevalence of obesity and pre-diabetes in children in an effort to design a more specific and tailored intervention for prevention.

“Dr. Beale has put a great team together and we are thrilled that she will be able to return to Kiritimati… her third trip as a PIMA volunteer to this isolated central Pacific region,” Carlton said.

One goal on this trip, Dr. Beale said, is to decrease serious foot complications, such as foot ulcers, that can lead to amputation.

“There will be a mini educational symposium on foot care at the beginning of the week,” she said. “Thereafter, each day a village clinic will be visited and the village staff will be shown how to screen patients for foot problems and how to educate their patients.”

“Each clinic will be provided a foot care tool kit including educational materials,” she said. “At the end of the week there will be a review session to define needs and to make plans to sustain and improve the program.”

While this is going on, the second data collection program will be underway, including the collection of data from 400 children of all ages on the island, including A1C samples and saliva samples to extract DNA to obtain ‘pilot data’ on the association between obesity and existing obesity-related genes.

The results of all research will be shared with the Kiribati Ministry of Health, Carlton said.

Dr. Elizabeth Beale MD is clinical director of the Roybal Diabetes Management Program and assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Joining Dr. Beale in foot care will be Dr. Julie Chatigny, DPM, chief executive officer and president of Central Coast Foot and Ankle Specialists, Templeton, California, and member of the humanitarian organization FootAid.

Leading data collection will be Dr. Michael Goran, professor of Preventative Medicine, Physiology, Biophysics and Pediatrics, co-director of the University of Southern California Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and director of the Child Obesity Research Center. He will be joined by Ms. Skylar Steinberg, University of Southern California student assistant.

Please help us support this very important mission by contributing what you can toward the costs of supplies and transportation.