Tanya Richvalsky, DO
Tanya Richvalsky, DO
Anesthesiology · Albany, NY

Adult Open Heart Surgery Medical Mission, Nigeria

May 16th
Oraifite, Nigeria

Project Description

The Adult Open Heart Surgery Medical Mission, organized by the VOOM Foundation, is a noble endeavor aimed at providing life-saving cardiac care to underserved communities in Nigeria. Heart disease remains a significant health challenge in Nigeria, with limited access to specialized medical interventions, particularly in remote areas. This mission seeks to bridge that gap by bringing together a team of skilled medical professionals, volunteers, and resources to perform open heart surgeries and provide essential cardiac care services.

The objectives of the project are multi-faceted:

Medical Mission: The primary focus of the project is to conduct open heart surgeries for patients in need. This includes procedures such as coronary artery bypass grafting, valve repair or replacement, and congenital heart defect corrections. The medical team will work closely with local healthcare providers to identify patients, conduct pre-operative evaluations, perform surgeries, and provide post-operative care.

Capacity Building: In addition to providing direct medical services, the mission aims to enhance the local healthcare infrastructure by sharing knowledge and expertise with local medical professionals. Training local providers to manage critically ill patients, emergency training, biomedical technology, cardiac surgery, anesthesiology, perfusion medicine are a few of the aims of the mission.

Community Outreach: Beyond surgical interventions, the project emphasizes community outreach and education to raise awareness about cardiovascular health and prevention strategies. This includes organizing a health fair, conducting screenings for early detection of heart disease risk factors, and promoting healthy lifestyle choices through interactive sessions and educational materials.

Population Served

Nigeria is an essential population to serve because over 95% of its people lack access to essential medical services. According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria ranks 163 out of 190 countries in healthcare. Recent health crises have further strained the already poorly developed healthcare system. In rural areas, where a significant portion of the population resides, health facilities and personnel are especially scarce. This lack of access to healthcare is not only detrimental to the well-being of Nigerians but also has broader implications for regional health. By addressing healthcare disparities in Nigeria, we can make a significant impact on the lives of millions, saving lives and improving overall health outcomes.

Expected Impact

The medical mission to Nigeria and the training of anesthesia providers will have a big impact.

Firstly, the mission will save lives by providing important heart surgeries and treatments to people who need them. This will make a big difference in their health and quality of life.

Secondly, by training local anesthesia providers, we're making sure that there are skilled professionals who can continue providing good care even after the mission is over. These trained providers will share their knowledge with others, improving healthcare across Nigeria in the long term.

Overall, this mission isn't just about immediate help—it's about building a healthier future for everyone in Nigeria.

Trip Photos & Recap

The VOOM Foundation, initially established to elevate healthcare standards in Nigeria, embarked on a week-long medical mission to Oraifite, Nigeria. During this time, we performed 15 open heart surgeries, addressing a variety of cases including valvular issues, coronary artery bypass grafting, complex open aortic aneurysm repairs, and congenital abnormalities like ventricular septal defect repairs. Alongside providing medical interventions, we prioritized education, bringing an anesthesia resident to assist and learn from cases while also training local providers in anesthetic management. The impact of this mission extended to patients with limited access to medical care, their families, Nigerian medical staff, and the mission participants. Coming together as a diverse team united by the goal of delivering safe medical care under challenging conditions was an incredible achievement, reigniting our passion for medicine and reminding us of the core motivations behind our profession.