Thursday, April 10, 2008

From Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, of BWH and co-founder of Partners In Health

Paul Farmer surprised Team Heart with a visit to King Faisal Hospital this week. Above, he and Ceeya Patton-Bolman greet Alice, who underwent mitral valve replacement the day before. Read his first ever blog entry below.

“Blog” from the mountains of Northern Rwanda
It was awesome—not a word I use lightly—to stand in the anesthesiologist’s spot (“behind the blood-brain barrier,” they used to say at the Brigham) and to watch Chip Bolman and an ace team from BWH cannulate the aorta of a 26-year-old man about to undergo mitral valve replacement (Prem Shekar has already done a big case that morning, so this was the second one of the day).

I’d had the good fortune to transport Jean-Claude Muhozi from rural southern Rwanda, where he lives in a refugee camp, to King Faisal Hospital, where Team Heart is repairing the valves and lives of many young Rwandans this week. It was awesome medically, as it always is when the pericardium is opened; it was awesome personally, as someone who has fought alongside many others to make sure that quality medical care be made available to the poorest; and it was awesome spiritually to see, on the exact anniversary of the 1994 genocide, that the power to heal continues to trump the power to maim, sicken, or kill.

Who knows what Jean-Claude, who lives in a tattered refugee camp with his brothers, has gone through even prior to falling ill with valvular heart disease that has made him cough and gasp for breath for years? Read Dr. Farmer's complete entry.

Visit with the Minister of Health

From left, Dr. Chip Bolman, Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo, Rwanda's Minister of Health, Ceeya Patton-Bolman, MSN, RN, Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, and Dr. Gene Bukhman.

Yesterday, Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo, Rwanda's Minister of Health, met with Team Heart's Chip Bolman, Ceeya Patton-Bolman and Partners In Health cardiologist Gene Bukhman to discuss health issues in Rwanda and the long-term work Team Heart is doing with King Faisal Hospital.

"You have come from such a long distance to visit us, to work with us," Dr. Ntawukuliryayo said. "We are so thankful to you."

We thank Dr. Ntawukuliryayo for hosting and supporting Team Heart during this mission.