Tuesday, April 8, 2008

From Jonnye Mastel, RN, of the OR

I feel like I have been practicing for this moment all my life…to be part of this extraordinary Boston team. I am profoundly grateful to the people of Rwanda who, in this week of remembrance, let us share with them such a celebration of life.

Jonnye Mastel is a nurse from Seattle who joined Team Heart to work as part of Chip Bolman’s surgical team. She and Chip worked together before he joined BWH.

Perfusionists Get Creative

Perfusionists Mike McAdams and Amy Patel operate the heart-lung machine during surgery.

Performing open heart surgery comes with its challenges. One of the greatest challenges came when the heater-cooler, a machine that controls the patient’s temperature during surgery, broke.

Perfusionists Mike McAdams and Amy Patel collaborated with Mike Gilfeather, a lead perfusionist back home at BWH, to come up with a solution. “His ideas, combined with ours, led us to the creation of a homemade heater-cooler,” McAdams said.

The solution works perfectly and ensures patients are safe as the team awaits delivery of a new heater-cooler from Kenya later today.

Patient and Nurse Education is Vital

Above, Suellen Breakey with patient Djuma and physiotherapist Emmanuel Muganwa.
Before patients go into the Operating Room, Suellen Breakey, PhD, RN, educates them about what will happen during surgery, what to expect in the intensive care unit and how they will feel afterward. The patients and their families exclaim in excitement when Suellen hands them a booklet of information translated into Kinyarwandan, their native language.

“The patients are surprised and excited to see that the books are in their language and translated perfectly,” Suellen said, adding that the books are helpful in teaching King Faisal’s nurses about heart surgery as well.

The books were translated by Egidia Rugwizangoga, RN, a BWH nurse and native of Rwanda. Although Egidia was not able to join us on this inaugural mission, she has been one of our greatest supporters. Her guidance and many insights are vital to the success of this mission, and words cannot express our gratitude to her.
Above, Egidia Rugwizangoga, center, with Leslie Sabatino and Ceeya Patton-Bolman at a February fundraiser for Team Heart in Boston.

From Leslie Sabatino, RN, clinical coordinator

Today is Tuesday, and the fifth patient just got his breathing tube out. His first words were “thank you.” Talk about bringing someone to tears! The patients are so appreciative.

I as well am so thankful to be able to work with such a wonderful group of professionals and friends. When we get home, the real impact of what we have all done will hit us like a ton of bricks. We have created a ripple effect in that saving the lives we have will help save families. Our patients are from various areas of Rwanda, so we can truly say we helped the people of this country.

I am so truly honored to be able to help the wonderful citizens of Rwanda with all the selfless people involved in Team Heart—from the kind woman who washed the floor between cases to the volunteer helpers in Boston to every member. You are all awesome!
Above, Leslie Sabatino with patient Alice.

From Rhonda Martin, RN, of the ICU

We’ve all been here about a week now and crammed in a month’s worth of activities.

I finished my first night shift at the hospital. Our patient did well and was so appreciative we came to Rwanda. I am constantly reminded of how much we have as I learn to save and reuse everything.

This week is also sobering because it is the 14th anniversary of the genocide. This next week is a week of remembrance for the Rwandan people. We visited the genocide museum and heard heart-wrenching stories of violence and loss. We stood next to local Rwandans who were crying over mass graves and touching photos of lost loved ones.

Yesterday we visited an orphanage and chatted with kids orphaned by the genocide and AIDS epidemic and gave them small gifts. We all look forward to a productive week at the hospital.

Above, Rhonda Martin with patient Joseph in the ICU.

Video: Mending Hearts

Celestin Gasamaza, a 25-year-old student and native of Kigali, never dreamed that the life-saving heart surgery he needed was a possibility. On Saturday, he was Team Heart's first surgical patient. Today, he moved from the intensive care unit to the step-down unit, where he is resting comfortably and feeling strong. In this video, Celestin shares his excitement about this "miracle."

"These people are good," he said of his care providers. "They did miracles. They performed wonders. We are asking God that he help them with all their work here. We appreciate it."