Utahn doctors join team to help save lives in Gaza

SALT LAKE CITY — On their first trip since the start of the pandemic, a team of Utah doctors was able to help babies and children in need of life-saving care in Gaza in a way that is positive in Utah.

“It’s incredibly inspiring to work with such humanitarians,” said Steve Sosebee, president and founder of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, or PCRF.

A team of medical professionals from Utah and around the country traveled to Gaza to operate on the hearts of babies and children between 6 months and 12 years old. They give their time, away from work and family, to save lives in a dangerous part of the world.

They really struggle to access health care in Gaza, so they had reparative heart lesions that would either limit their life expectancy or affect their quality of life,” explained Adil Husain, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Utah and co-director of the center. for the heart in Primary children.

Through PCRF, he and a team of doctors spend about a week in Gaza. They examine patients, understand diagnoses and put everything in place and plan for recovery – all in a short period of a few days.

“We structure the surgeries so that we do the more difficult surgeries at the beginning so we’ll be there longer during those recovery periods for those kids and we do the simple surgeries toward the end because we know the recovery will be easier, so there’s some kind of method to the madness,” he said. is dr. Husain.

Dr. Husain, an intensive care physician, 2 nurses, a physician’s assistant and a surgical technician traveled to Gaza. And only because of these teams these kids have a chance in life. Some of these heart procedures are ones we take for granted in the US, but children don’t have access to in other parts of the world.

“Many of these children have holes in their hearts or connections in their hearts that allow blood to mix in a way that affects their oxygen levels or how efficiently they work. And these are things that we close quite easily, or repair quite easily in ourselves, and yet their lifespan is much shorter,” said Dr. Husain. “And so it’s very satisfying because you’re able to address what we would consider fairly simple medical problems, but for them, they’re very complex because of the lack of access.” So we can really change a lot of lives in a short amount of time”

Another benefit of the trip is that doctors and nurses from local places like Primary Children teach life-saving techniques and procedures to medical professionals on the ground in Gaza, so families don’t rely on doctor visits alone.

“Any child who needs treatment that is not available locally must have a permit to travel abroad, and only fifty percent of those permits are ever issued,” Sosebee said. “So a lot of these kids don’t have the opportunity to travel outside for care, and a lot of that care isn’t available locally because the health system just isn’t developed and doesn’t have the resources to develop it.”

Dr. Husain, who has made more than 10 trips to the Israel-Palestine area, adds that his ability to give back reminds him why he got into this profession in the first place.

“Over the years, it’s actually been a gift to me,” said Dr. Husain. “For many reasons, it gave me a pretty deep perspective on what we take for granted. Not just everyday life here in the U.S., but as healthcare providers, the access we have to technology and the types of environments in which we can provide care.”

“We can make a difference and it can have a significant impact on humanity, and make a positive change when things look very dire and difficult like today,” Sosebee said.

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