Our intrepid heart team has returned home after seeing 177 patients in a week’s time on isolated Christmas Island in the central Pacific, where they identified nine needing life-saving surgery.
Plans are underway now to bring the nine patients to Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas for surgery, says team leader cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. David Moore, M.D.
Team members on the island were divided into small units for their one-week stay and were able to perform 176 heart echoes on adult patients and 975 rheumatic heart disease-screening echoes for children at local schools on the island.
In addition, team members offered educational talks to teachers and students about rheumatic heart disease, its causes and cures… where many islanders suffer as a result of undiagnosed and untreated rheumatic fever in children that results in heart disease later in life.
“We are really proud of our professional team members who volunteered time and expertise in helping the good people of Kiribati, where the need it great,” said Carlton Smith, president of Pacific Islands Medical Aid.
The physician and medical officer in charge for the Kiribati Ministry of Health on Christmas Island, Dr. Teraira Bangao, says ‘the team worked very hard when they were here… they did a great job… starting out each day at 8:30 a.m. and working straight through to 6 p.m.”
“We are so thankful to the team members and everyone at Pacific Islands Medical Aid and look forward to their next visit,” he said.
In this humanitarian outreach, Dr. Moore and his team of heart surgeons at Cardiac Specialists in Plano, Texas and Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital in Plano will provide surgeries and hospitalization for the patients, while Pacific Islands Medical Aid provides all housing, meals and local transportation in the Dallas area for the patients and their chaperones, and the Kiribati Ministry of Health provides round trip airfare.
Please help support this life-saving program with your donation. Here is Dr. Moore’s report.
By Dr. David Moore, M.D.
Rheumatic heart disease remains a major global health concern primarily affecting young adults in the developing world.
This is particularly true in many of the islands of the central and western Pacific.
Our team from Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas recently returned to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Republic of Kiribati with the support and coordination of Pacific Islands Medical Aid.
Team members included Dr. David Moore, CV surgery; Dr. Steve Mottl, cardiology; Michael Rampoldi, echo cardiographer, Candice Rampoldi, echo assistant and echo data collection; Amy Moore, trip coordinator and data management; Sherry Swanson, Baylor Heart Hospital social services; and Tom Roma, school education program.
In the course of our week on the island, we functioned as two teams; one evaluating patients in the clinic at Ronton Hospital and the other focusing on education regarding prevention of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) as well as echo screening in the primary schools.
Echo screening of asymptomatic children allows for early detection of RHD with the identification of subtle abnormalities in the heart valves. Children with these findings can then be started on prophylactic penicillin injections preventing subsequent episodes of Strep Throat and thus avoiding further immune response and valve damage.
A total of 950 children were screened by our team over a period of four days. At the same time, children, teachers and some parents received education on the prevention of RHD, emphasizing hand washing, appropriate coverage for cough, and the need to see a physician or nurse for treatment of sore throats.
At the clinic, our team evaluated and obtained an echo on 175 patients. Two children with congenital heart disease were identified, three adults with probable coronary artery disease and eight patients with rheumatic heart disease were diagnosed. The adult patients will be brought to Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas for additional testing and surgery. The children with congenital heart disease will be referred to an appropriate facility for surgical correction.
Our team appreciates the opportunity to continue this good work made possible by Baylor Scott White Health Care System, the Republic of Kiribati Ministry of Health and Pacific Islands Medical Aid.
We are grateful to the people of Kiritimati (Christmas Island) for their warm hospitality and support.