Medical Mission Update: In Haiti, Berthony Gets A “Second Chance” At Life

I’ve witnessed it first hand…

I’ve seen it happen in the Dominican Republic…

When Dr. David Adams, the Mitral Foundation, and Every Heartbeat Matters comes together, the human spirit lifts and heart valve patients get a “second chance” at life.

Recently, I had a special opportunity to talk with Dr. Adams about Berthony, a 24-year old patient from Haiti, who needed not one, not two, but three valves operated on.

 

 

Thanks so much to Dr. David Adams, Amanda Fowler, Gideon Sims, the Mitral Foundation and Every Heartbeat Matters for being a global force for good.  Your actions, your passion and your commitment to this work inspires our patient community!  Thank You!

Keep on tickin!
Adam

P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of my interview with Dr. Adams below.

Adam Pick: Hi, everybody. It’s Adam. We’re at the Heart Valve Summit in Chicago, Illinois. I’m thrilled to be here with Dr. David Adams, who is the Cardiac Surgeon and Chief of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. He’s also the co-director of the Heart Valve Summit. Dr. Adams, thanks so much for being here.

David Adams: Adam, good to see you.

Adam Pick: As you know, we’ve been answering questions that patients have been submitting. I wanted to just pivot a little bit in the conversation and talk about a recent experience that you’ve had, and talk about some of the work that you’re doing down in the Dominican Republic with some medical mission.

 

 

David Adams: We have a Mitral Foundation and one of our objectives in this foundation is to, through mission work, not only take care of patients, but also help to establish reference centers and other areas outside of the United States. We started this in North Thailand. We actually went to Chiang Mai University, which is one of the biggest hospitals in Thailand. Through a mission there, where we took care of several patients, I met a young surgeon who then came over and did a fellowship with me. He is now a senior surgeon there and running a fantastic mitral valve clinic.

That was the vision and the model that we’ve now pursued in the Dominican Republic. We have very strong ties there through a lot of my friends and co-workers in our department in New York. Through that connectivity, we got an opportunity to go down and visit some different places in the Dominican Republic. We’d done a few trips already through General Hospital Plaza de la Salud. It’s just a great team. It started to advance knowledge about not only valve surgery, but the discipline around taking care of patients after a surgery.

That then expanded into just a fantastic trip last month with the Every Heartbeat Matters Foundation, which as you know is a philanthropic arm of Edwards Lifesciences, and just led by a fantastic person, Amanda Fowler, who’s so passionate about this that it’s infectious. She called me and said that they’d had a connection with Haiti, and that there were some young Haitian patients they were trying to bring over to the Dominican Republic to have surgery, and asked me to get involved. I have to say, it was one of the really gratifying things I’ve gotten to do in the last several years.

 

 

We had found there was a young patient, who was in his early 20s, who actually had rheumatic disease and required a triple valve operation. Of course, valve preservation on the mitral side is so important in this age group. He’d been initially evaluated by another team that was working down there, and it was felt to be a bit complicated in terms of the operation. Amanda called me and asked me if I could come down and help take care of him.

We went to another hospital, which is again a fantastic hospital with a lot of well-trained doctors and a great staff, but not really expert in valve reconstruction. We organized this trip through the Mitral Foundation and Every Heartbeat Matters. We took care of this young man who was just a really neat individual from Haiti, who drew us all these pictures on this wood before the surgery, which was – actually, interestingly I have it with me back in New York.

We did this triple valve operation with the heart team there. We brought an intensivist as well. We spent a couple of days not only taking care of this patient, but talking about what an opportunity would look like not only to connect those dots with more young Haitian patients, but also to help elevate their knowledge and experience in valve disease. We made a lot of progress. The patient did fantastically. In fact, I just got a text from him today. The patient did fantastically, and I think more importantly, I think we’re starting to lay the bricks of an early foundation that’s going to lead us to an opportunity to establish a valve reference center in the Dominica Republic, like we’ve had the opportunity to do in Thailand. It’s a very exciting partnership. One that also starts again with a vision. I think this is a sure vision with Amanda and Every Heartbeat Matters and the Mitral Foundation, so I’m really excited about it.

 

 

Adam Pick: I understand that the young gentleman’s name is Berthony, down in Haiti, and I’m thrilled to hear he’s doing well. I just want to, on behalf of Berthony, his family, all the smiles that you created for them, thank you for the incredible work, you and your team. I also want to take a minute to thank Amanda Fowler, Edwards Lifesciences, and the Every Heartbeat Matters. Dr. Adams, once again, you never cease to amaze me with all you do.

David Adams: Thanks a lot, Adam.

Adam Pick: Thanks for everything. We really appreciate it.

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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