Advance Team Identifies Cataract Patients

Our advance eye surgery team, led by long-time Pacific Islands Medical Aid volunteer Dr. Larry Falk, M.D. , along with recently-retired ophthalmologist Dr. Jack F. Mason, M.D., has just returned from the isolated islands of Tabuaeran, Teraina and Kiritimati in the Central Pacific where they identified more than 50 islanders needing cataract surgery.

In addition, hundreds of islanders were examined and received reading and long distance vision eyeglasses, donated by PIMA with your generous donations, and dispensed by local nurses.

In late April, patients will be brought to the small hospital in Kiritimati for cataract surgery, where volunteer eye surgeons Drs. Paul Imperia and Paul Jorizzo from Medford, Oregon will lead. This will be their third Pacific Islands Medical Aid trip to the Line Islands in Kiribati, where they have already performed nearly 200 successful eye surgeries.

See Dr. Falk’s report, including photos, in next month’s newsletter.

Team Fights Cervical Cancer, Continues Training Program

High rates of uterine cancer plague Pacific Island nations and threaten the lives of adult women who have no means of early detection or treatment.

To help stem the tide and provide preventive treatment, our volunteer Women’s Health team has just completed it’s third mission to Christmas Island in the isolated island nation of Kiribati, where they treated nearly 100 women and continued an educational program to help local doctors and nurses identify and treat uterine pre-cancer.

Members included our team leader, Dr. Theresa Woehrle, M.D.,MPH and ob/gyn Dr. Judy Hall Chen, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.

And thanks to your donations, Pacific Islands Medical Aid has been able to donate portable equipment to help identify and treat early signs of cervical cancer in island women. Here is Dr. Woehrle’s report:

By Dr. Theresa Woehrle, M.D., MPH

Dr. Judy Chen and I have just returned from our women’s health trip to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) and we could not be happier about the outcome. From beginning to end it was a great trip.

Working closely with Dr. Baranika Toroman (the sole ob/gyn on the island), the team was able to see nearly 100 women for cervical cancer screening.

Dr. Judy also trained the local staff in the use of a hand-held ultrasound (also donated by PIMA). This was especially useful in the isolated and remote village of Poland on Christmas Island where women find it very difficult to come to the island hospital for prenatal ultrasound.

Most importantly, we found that with the support and encouragement of Dr. Baranika and Dr. Teraira Bangao (the island’s medical officer in charge) and their nurses, the local program continues to identify and kill pre-cancer cells.

By identifying early changes, they have saved many women from cervical cancer.

Children from Tarawa Get Heart Surgery

For the parents of 2 year old Iotua Nenetaake and Bwabwane Meeia, 10, it’s a dream come true that their children have been saved, thanks to the efforts of Pacific Islands Medical Aid, the leader of HeartGift Texas and heart surgeon Dr. Camile Hancock Friesen at Dell Childrens’ Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin.

Ready to Go Home - Children from Tarawa in Kiribati are ready to go home after successful heart surgery in Austin, Texas. Sitting between children is their heart surgeon, Dr. Camile Hancock Friesen of Dell Childrens Medical Center of Central Texas. Second from right is Sonya Keeling, International Director of HeartGift of Texas, who arranged help for the children. Others include parents of the children and Kiribati Ministry of Health nurse/translator.

Ready to Go Home – Children from Tarawa in Kiribati are ready to go home after successful heart surgery in Austin, Texas. Sitting between children is their heart surgeon, Dr. Camile Hancock Friesen of Dell Childrens Medical Center of Central Texas. Second from right is Sonya Keeling, International Director of HeartGift of Texas, who arranged help for the children. Others include parents of the children and Kiribati Ministry of Health nurse/translator.

The children, their mothers and Kiribati Ministry of Health nurse have now all returned to their home island of Tarawa in the Central Pacific following successful heart repair surgery for both children.

Congenital heart problems for each child were first discovered by our volunteer heart team leader, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore of Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas and his team, traveling to far-away Tarawa last year.

Surgery was made possible with the help and leadership of Ms. Sonya Keeling, national patient coordinator for HeartGift Texas, who’s efforts made it possible for the children to come to Dell Childrens’ Medical Center.

Ms. Keeling said both children “were amazing in their recovery from surgery. Having them here has been such a great experience for all of us involved,” she said.