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.


The 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.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jennifer Ditto, RN MSN

My name is Jennifer Ditto and I am the scrub nurse going with the team to Uganda this year.I have been a nurse for 10 years, working in the operating room at UNC for 9 of those. I love to scrub pediatric heart procedures because of the challenge they present, but seeing such a small piece of what these kids go through wasn’t enough for me at one point though. I wanted to expand my view of the journey these kids take, so in 2005 I decided to further my education, going back to school to get a pediatric nurse practitioner degree. While I learned an incredible amount that I carry with me everyday caring for these children, I haven’t been able to get myself to give up being a part of the surgical aspect of their care.

As the hours dwindle away, and the fury of preparation for the trip is coming to a close, I find myself a little overwhelmed with the thought that tomorrow I will be in Uganda. Never having been out of the country before, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of this year’s trip to Uganda. I hope to teach the operating room staff there, about the congenital defects, as well as the procedure that we will use to repair them. Being a part of this team has been amazing so far, as we have been meeting together to plan the trip and gather supplies and equipment. Before even getting there, I am realizing how fortunate we are for the technology that we have accessible to us, and the people we work with that come together for a cause as big as this. I can’t imagine how this is going to change my life in a few days.While I am grateful for the wonderful colleagues that are also taking this journey, none of this would be possible for me without the support of my family and friends. A special thanks to my son, and my parents who are staying with him, while I head off for an adventure around the world. And as a humorous aside, to those of you who have offered up some of your most prized possessions, should I need them to get home safely, I’ll miss you while I’m gone!

Jennifer Ditto, RN MSN - Uganda Mission 2008

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