Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Update 10.10.2012

v  Approval to work in Rwanda is now required for all NGO's. In response, the application for official INGO status in Rwanda has been prepared and submitted.  A comprehensive 104-page document prepared under the leadership of Team Heart project manager, Noella Bigirimana details the work we do, the partners in country we work with and the source  and amount of our funding. We anxiously await approval, indicating the country values the contributions TH makes to both education and care delivery in cardiac disease and acknowledges TH's careful attention to following  guidelines for providing care. An advantage of the process includes the opportunity to align Team Heart and Rwanda's goals and to determine the best measurement of outcomes. 

 Noella, a pre-med graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca,NY, is a  native of Rwanda and taking a gap year while working with Team Heart. Noella will travel with the surgical team to Rwanda in February and currently is coordinating a meeting of international surgical partners working in Rwanda, scheduled June 2013 in Geneva, among other strategic planning.

v  A successful Team Heart Golf Tournament raised funds for team travel for the 2013 surgical trip to deliver life-saving surgery for young adults and adolescents. Held October 1 on a gorgeous day in Nashua, NH, the tournament was chaired by three-time traveler and step down-ICU nurse, Michelle LaChance. The course at Sky Meadow Country Club is already booked for the third annual tournament in September, 2013, as planning began as soon as we wrapped up play. Thanks to an amazing organizing committee who, incidentally, all work full time at leading hospitals!

v  A comprehensive curriculum has been developed and copyrighted under the leadership of Dr. Patricia C. Come, a 5-year traveler for Team Heart pre-op evaluation team. Submitted for approval to the Senate of the Medical School of the National University of Rwanda, we anticipate and hope applications will be entertained for January admission. The curriculum is a diploma program designed to increase the cardiology knowledge of selected internal medicine physicians working in regional centers to improve post-operative care and increase the identification and early intervention of those with rheumatic heart disease and other heart disease. The selected physicians, after completing the program, will work closely in regional clinics with nurses to provide care. The regional  Rwandan nurse led clinics, forms the backbone of the health care system.  

v        JaBaris Swain, MD, 3-year traveler with Team Heart begins his two-year Cabot Fellowship in Global Health Equity Residency in General Surgery, designed to train academic surgeons in the science and practice of surgical care delivery in austere settings, as well as develop research and policy leaders in this nascent field. Housed in the BWH Center for Surgery and Public Health, the program is one of the few global surgery residencies in the U.S. His work will be designing a proposal to investigate the cost benefit analysis of cardiac surgery in resource poor settings to submit to the Ministry of Health for consideration to work with local caregivers and investigators. Team Heart is proud to support a portion of this fellowship.

In October, under Team Heart sponsorship, JaBaris will travel as an invited guest to the NIH as an observer in global health. In December he will travel to COSECA, (College of Surgeons, East Central and South Africa) in Addis Abba, Ethiopia and will return with the team in February to provide direct care.

Team Heart and Dr. Swain was featured in the recent RHD News Newsletter for the World Heart Federation! Thank you JaBaris for your acknowledgement of Team Heart and the work we do in Rwanda!

v  December travel to Rwanda will include BWH procurement expert Steve Senat and Leslie Sabatino.  Steve and Leslie identified a short list of critical items to order and procure with direct delivery to Kigali working with local team leaders, led by Vedaste Ndayisaba, King Faisal hospital and the newly restructured CAMERWA. Team Heart is the first expatriate cardiac team to take this critical step to sustainability.  This step to transfer expertise for cardiac surgical procurement must happen if surgery is possible independently.

v  Rwanda welcomes back home Dr. Jean Marie Vianney Gapira Ganza from completing his interventional cardiology fellowship, Universit√© Catholique de Louvain Brussels. Originally located in Butare where his family lives he had previously worked in the NUR Medical School UTHB. Team Heart has worked with him since our first year in Rwanda, and he is both loved by his patients and respected by his colleagues. His graduate thesis was regarding rheumatic heart disease, the leading cause of heart disease in Rwanda at this time.  We look forward to working closely with him in the future.

v        Dr. Maurice Musoni has begun his first year of general surgery and cardiac surgery in Johannesburg, South Africa. We have very little information about how his work is going, he is on trauma service now and is working very hard. He traveled with the support of the Ministry of Health.Team Heart is very proud to have arranged the position and to ensure he is able to take advantage of the comprehensive learning experiences.

v  Strategic planning for Team Heart. Do we expand, do we focus, do we build? Do we answer the multiple requests to fill urgent needs in other countries?  If you would like to join a meeting or sit on a committee, or receive minutes contact:

v  Screening-What happened to the screening program of school-age children from September 2010? Data analysis is in process at this moment. Thanks to Boston cardiologist, Bernard Bulwer, and Studycast, all echocardiograms have been read. Echo findings must be graded for input into computer and Dr. Mucumbitisi is compiling  gradings in Rwanda. Early indications could predict a large number of unknown individuals with RHD in the country who will one day need surgery if not identified and placed on prophylaxis. Even then, some will progress to require cardiac surgical intervention. Thank you to The Medtronic Foundation, the J. Warren Harthorne, MD Fund for Screening, Studycast, and Cathy and Mannie Jackson Gift for funding this project and making it possible.

v  Support Team Heart! Consider a Capital ONE Credit Card! A percentage of your charges will be donated back to Team Heart each month to support these projects. To apply for the card, visit:,Inc.