Report Swiss Spine Foundation November 2022
The last time I was in Myanmar was right before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in January 2020. Since then, our activities were interrupted by the pandemic. After global lockdowns have gradually been eased, the first thing we could do was to ship surgical instruments of 350 Kg (value of 250,000 USD) from Zurich to Yangon in August of 2022. After a few delays still due to the pandemic, they arrived safely at the port of Yangon in November 2022. These instruments are very useful for the orthopedic spinal surgeries. By using these modern instruments, the possibilities as well as the quality of spinal surgeries can be improved. The instruments will be delivered to two main public orthopedic spine units: Spine Unit of Yangon and Spine Unit of Naypyidaw orthopedic departments. (photos)
In October of 2022 we were very glad to be able to travel in person to Myanmar to resume the activities of Swiss Spine Foundation. Even though some covid restrictions were still in place and the capacities of the public hospitals were limited by political turmoil, we were able to do our charity and good will activities without any hinderance. On the contrary, people were very glad and appreciated our commitment despite all the troubles. We decided to go to help people in the troubled times. All responsible people were very helpful to us to make our work as smooth and complete as possible. As We were not there since 2 ½ years, some patients had to wait so long that they developed massive spinal deformities, while waiting for me to come back for them. (photos)
Activities in NAYPHIDAW
It was the first time we were in NAYPYIDAW, the new capital city of Myanmar, abut 400 km north of Yangon, the ex-capital and the biggest and most populous city. The 4-hour drive by car was comfortable on the highway. We saw patients and operated on poor children with scoliosis in the orthopedic hospital of Naypyidaw (photos). Their operation theatres were big and equipped with essential necessities. The anesthesia and nurses were very qualified, so that we could operate on small children without difficulties. They were also well prepared for our mission. We took many surgical instruments they are needing in our suitcases in the flight from Zurich to Yangon, worth 50,000 USD. Customs were very cooperative as all were for donation purposes. The doctors in Naypyidaw were very happy to receive them. I was able to teach young surgeons in Naypyidaw and they had the opportunity to assist and observe the operations. It was the first time pediatric scoliosis was operated in Naypyidaw for which they were very proud of. We spent 2 days and one night in NAYPYIDAW. (photos)
Activities in YANGON
The Spine Unit in Yangon orthopedic University Hospital has been the base of the activities of Swiss Spine Foundation since the beginning. We were glad to be back after a long break, meet all the young surgeons, who have been partly trained by myself. They have collected children with spinal deformities nationwide: Some of them travelled from very northern part or very southern part with the whole family to see us. Since I have not been operating for 2 ½ years, the children have developed large deformities in their spines, while waiting for my trip. We were able to see the patients on one day and operate them on following 4 days. All the young surgeons were very enthusiastic and received Hands-on refresher courses in the operating room. The implants donated previously from K2M (Stryker) were still enough present for the operations we performed this time too (photos). But for next time we need to ask for donations again. The implants are essential part of our mission to operate on the poor children. All our patients and their families very glad and thankful. All the patients got rid of the scoliosis and became straight. Many of them reported already that they can breathe a lot better now than before as their bodies become straight. (photos)
All patients in both hospitals recovered well without any complications. We are also very thankful that we can do positive actions to the people in need, investing our own time and available resources.
We express our special thanks to all my patients in Switzerland who have donated to the foundation, the company K2M/Stryker (USA) for the screws and implants, all the responsible people in Myanmar who have assisted us in many ways, and my pupils young and enthusiastic spine surgeons. Without all these our mission will not have been possible.
We expect to travel to Myanmar in late spring 2023. I intend to establish regular teaching activities for postgrad spine candidates, in cooperation with Yangon University, in addition to clinical activity of treating young and poor patients with spinal deformities.