Kigali | Rwanda, January 2019

On January 4th 2019, 13 volunteer healthcare professionals from across the US arrived at Kanombe Military Hospital in Kigali Rwanda with several large bags filled with medical equipment on behalf of Medical Missions for Children. Over the subsequent five days, the team performed 26 thyroid surgeries with the help of local healthcare workers and the hospital staff. We were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work side by side with local professionals to provide free surgery for people in need. The graciousness and hospitality shown to us by the patients, hospital staff and people of Rwanda made the experience truly memorable and we look forward to returning soon!

Kezia Mukamana, 66 years old, before surgery

Kezia Mukamana after surgery, recovering well and in good spirits!

The Team

The team was led by general surgeons Fletcher Starnes MD and Peter Mazzaglia MD and Anesthesiologist Brandy Brewer MD. David Elbert, Felicia Castaneda and Faith Chitiyo, all CRNAs, provided anesthesia care. Registered Nurses Adam Sperry, Jennifer Cornell and Chrissy Starnes and physician assistants Amber Saleemi and Nicholas Limoncelli provided peri-operative patient care and assisted in the operating room. Surgical technician Vanessa Horton assisted the surgical teams in the operating room. Rounding out the team were Theresa, Ian and Valentine Starnes, who provided administrative support and helped with documentation.

The team after the first day in the OR. Although many of us met for the first time upon arriving, we were able to quickly bond and work as a unit to provide safe and effective patient care.

Dr. Starnes and Dr. Mazzaglia ended the week by presenting a lecture on thyroid conditions to local medical students. Over 50 were in attendance and hundreds more joined via live stream.

This trip was made possible by Medical Missions for Children, who provided everything from equipment to logistics and planning. Through their coordination, the team was able to travel with a smartphone enabled ultrasound probe, which was invaluable in the preoperative planning of safe and effective thyroidectomies. The team would like to especially thank Dennis Snyder MD, Chairman of the MMFC Board of Directors, for his outstanding guidance and generosity of time and efforts towards this team’s first Rwanda mission!

Vianney Ruhumuliza, RN, originally from Rwanda, worked tirelessly before and during the mission to make sure the team had everything we needed to succeed. He also provided pre and post-op patient care. He was vital to the mission and we could not have done it without him!

Thank you to everyone else who made this mission possible and a special thanks to Dr. Starnes for organizing the mission and getting the team together!