Thanks to Sherry Shaw and CryoLife

Critical to our success with heart patients from the central Pacific are the new heart valves needed to replace defective human valves in the dozens of islanders brought to the U.S. needing life-saving surgery.

CryoLife cardiovascular specialist Sherry Shaw of Plano, Texas and the firm she represents, On-X Life Technologies, Inc., have been absolutely essential in our humanitarian program by donating world-class artificial heart valves to Pacific Islands Medical Aid (PIMA) through Baylor Heart Hospital and our team leader, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore.

“We cannot thank Sherry enough for organizing her company’s fabulous donations and for her continuing support of this worthwhile program, ” said Carlton Smith, PIMA president.

Sherry said ‘it is a humbling honor to be part of such a worthwhile PIMA endeavor with such an excellent heart team and hospital.”

CryoLife is a leader in tissue processing and medical devices, such as the On-X prosthetic heart valves used in cardiac surgical procedures, Carlton said.

PIMA Supports Bio-Med Training

One of the most challenging aspects of PIMA’s donations of much needed medical equipment to small hospitals in isolated islands in the Pacific is the maintenance and repair of the equipment.

Young bio-medical technician Taaren Toanikai from tiny Ronton Hospital on Christmas Island in Kiribati struggles with this each day, but is now getting some much needed help, thanks to the generous opportunity offered him by Ukiah Valley Medical Center Hospital in Ukiah, California.

Thanks to our long-time surgical volunteer, Dr. Larry Falk from Ukiah Valley Medical Center and it’s president Gwen Matthews, and your donations to provide round trip airfare, Taaren will get the help he needs.

Taaren arrived in Ukiah last week and begins his five week long training right away, Dr. Falk said.

Dr. Falk said Taaren will participate in the daily activities of the biomedical department there, under the direction of Jack Smiley. He will receive hands-on instruction on operational procedures, safety procedures and repair and maintenance techniques for hospital equipment with particular emphasis on the equipment at Ronton Hospital.

He will also receive instruction in computer networking, repair and maintenance and will be coached by Dr. Falks’ wife in use of the English language in interpreting installation and repair manuals and communicating with consultants and colleagues.

We are really happy for Taaren and thank Dr. Falk and everyone at Ukiah Valley Medical Center for giving him this opportunity. And thanks, too, for your donations to Pacific Islands Medical Aid, Inc. to help make this happen, says Carlton Smith, PIMA president.

All Successful, Heart Patients Head Home

Thanks to the efforts of dozens of hospital personnel and other volunteers, six more critically-ill heart patients from the central Pacific nation of Kiribati are now well and back home again.

Open-heart surgery at Baylor Heart Hospitals in Plano and Denton, Texas saved them all.

This third group of heart patients from Kiribati will now be followed by another group of five, scheduled to arrive in Plano later this month. Each group must remain in the U.S. for about a month to allow sufficient time for post surgery recovery. Most all will require heart valve repair or replacement.

All of this is made possible by the dozens of hospital physicians, nurses and others at Baylor Heart Hospitals, your donations to Pacific Islands Medical Aid (PIMA), and the Kiribati Ministry of Health.

Surgery Follow-Up - Team leader Dr. David Moore, MD, checks his patient immediately after surgery, along with Kiribati Ministry of Health chaperone Nurse Taabiti Anrake, who accompanied the patients from Tarawa.

Surgery Follow-Up – Team leader Dr. David Moore, MD, checks his patient immediately after surgery, along with Kiribati Ministry of Health chaperone Nurse Taabiti Anrake, who accompanied the patients from Tarawa.

Humanitarian team leader, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD of Cardiac Surgery Specialists in Plano, Texas, joined by cardiac sonographer Michael Rampoldi and nurse Amy Moore, together with PIMA president Carlton Smith, traveled to islands in Kiribati last October to locate and diagnose seriously-ill heart patients there.

More than 40 patients were identified, mostly suffering with heart valve disease, brought about by early and untreated rheumatic fever.

The trip to the U.S. for patients is an eye-opening one, considering most have never left their home village. Patients must get from their home island by boat or plane to the Kiribati capital of Tarawa, then fly from Tarawa to Nadi in Fiji. From NadI, they are bused four hours to Suva and interviewed the following day at the U.S. Embassy to get their U.S. visas.

From Suva, they go back to NadI and fly onward to Los Angeles and then to Dallas.

Going Home Celebration - Kiribati heart patients and friends join together for a going-home celebration hours before their departure from Dallas, sponsored by Ms. Sherry Shaw (at right), heart valve specialist with On-X Life Technologies, donors of the On-X heart valves. Also in back row is team leader and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD and PIMA president Carlton Smith.

Going Home Celebration – Kiribati heart patients and friends join together for a going-home celebration hours before their departure from Dallas, sponsored by Ms. Sherry Shaw (at right), heart valve specialist with On-X Life Technologies, donors of the On-X heart valves. Also in back row is team leader and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, MD and PIMA president Carlton Smith.

“We owe special thanks to personnel at the U.S. Embassy, and especially to vice consul Mr. Jeremias Dirk in Suva who has gone out of his way to expedite the visa process for these urgent heart cases,” said PIMA president Carlton Smith.

Invaluable help has also been provided by Ms. Sherry Swanson, LMSW, manager of Comprehensive Care Management for the Baylor Heart Hospitals in Plano and Denton, Texas, who has helped organize and coordinate surgery schedules, and patient care.