About UNC Project-Uganda
In 2004, a group of UNC physicians established the Amal Murarka International Pediatric Health Foundation in memory of their colleague, Dr. Amal Murarka, who died unexpectedly in 2003. The foundation sent a medical team to Kampala to establish the country's first pediatric intensive care unit at Mulago Hospital, Makerere University, where Dr. Murarka had previously conducted research. Subsequent work in 2007 and 2008 focused on pediatric cardiac surgery. The foundation not only built a cardiac ICU, but also performed a total of 21 life-saving pediatric cardiac surgeries.
In 2008 the foundation partnered with the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases to establish UNC Project-Uganda.
MissionThe UNC Project-Uganda was established to support sustainable delivery of compassionate and competent health care to infants, children, and adolescents in Uganda; to improve the medical knowledge of the Ugandan health care workforce through in-country training and a physician exchange program; and to provide advanced medical equipment, medications, and services necessary for the delivery of compassionate and competent pediatric care in Uganda.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Today, our medical mission's story was front page news and photo in Kampala's newspaper, The Daily Monitor.They reported that we successfully accomplished the first open heart surgery since the 1970's. The center of attention was Edward Kasaija--a small boy with a big heart defect--who walked down the corridor of the hospital today with a big smile and a video game in hand--less than 48 hours after surgery on Wednesday. He thanked us all, but his big grin was thanks enough. His grandmother, who is his caregiver since his own mother died, jumped for joy in the hall in a display of gratitude that gave hope to all the other parents waiting in the screening and waiting area. (For those of you who want the whole story, query the Kampala Daily Monitor, "Mulago performs open heart surgery"). This was a big start to what turned out to be a life-changing day.
Two additional surgeries were performed today and filled the new cardiology ICU to capacity with recovering pediatric patients. As I witnessed my first open heart surgery, I was awed by the "engineering" of the human body and its essential Heart. And I was again overwhelmed by the human factor that makes the newest technology "magical." Everyone (and there were probably 20 people in the Operating Room today) showed the highest respect for Jonathan, our 5 yr old patient, and for each other. Again, the process was seamless among colleagues of varying cultures.
After the surgery, three of us "laymen" shed our scrubs and headed out of town to an orphange for children with AIDS. The joy and spirit that these children displayed to each of us filled our hearts and made us appreciate further the enormous resilience of the human spirit. Many of these toddlers live in pain, but you would never know it. They clapped their hands and sang and smiled as their teachers/caretakers led them with drumming of familiar songs. If was hard to leave these brave little spirits who touched us so much. But we were able to leave them with a large bundle of beautiful clothes contributed by my friends and colleagues back in the states. I wish each of you could have been here to experience the gratitude.
Its hard to imagine what tomorrow will hold here in this week of miracles.
by Uganda Medical Mission