January 10, 2014
WPP team performs surgery on seven children in first mission for 2014

The World Paediatric Project (WPP) has completed it’s first mission for 2014.{{more}}

Through the project, a four-member team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines, last Sunday, to perform general surgery on children from this country and other neighbouring islands.

Following clinic on Monday, seven children were selected to have their issues corrected through surgical intervention.

Paediatric surgeon Dr Jeffrey Lukish told SEARCHLIGHT that this was his first mission with the WPP.

Lukish, who has been administering paediatric surgery for 14 years, expressed a love for his craft and said that he was happy to be a part of the project.

“Somebody approached me about a year ago about getting involved with the World Paediatric Project and they had a potential opportunity to come on a mission to St Vincent. I looked at the WPP and I looked at St Vincent and I decided that this is the right thing for me to come and care for kids,” the surgeon said.

“I love it. My nurses love caring for kids. My paediatric anaesthesiologist loves caring for kids. This isn’t even work for me. This is a privilege to come down here and care for these kids”.

Of the seven children that received surgical care this week, four are Vincentian while one each is from Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada.

These general surgeries addressed diseases that affect the abdominal area, such as the Hirschsprung disease.

In one case, a fairly new surgical procedure was performed on an 11-year-old, who was born with an imperforate anus. The surgeons implanted a cecostomy tube to help clear the bowels of fecal matter. Although corrective surgeries had been done to correct her problem, the child was not able to properly control her bowels.

“The girl is 11 years old but cannot control her bowels because the reconstruction, although fine and good, it’s not uncommon for these children…to not be able to poop normally,” Lukish explained.

“So, we’re going to use this button door to enter into her colon. It seems scary and ugly, but it’s not. She sits on the potty and she hooks up the cecostomy tube and she runs in the fluid, one litre of normal saline and we’ll wash her colon out.

“By washing her colon out once a day, we’ll get her in a routine that when she comes home at 5o’ clock, she’ll empty her bowels out and the other 23 and a half hours a day, she’ll be clean and happy. She won’t be soiling herself.”

Chief executive officer of the WPP, Susan Rickman says she feels the project has had a huge impact in its partner countries, as it focuses on paediatric specialities.

“Where St Vincent and the surrounding islands have amazing doctors and surgeons…they don’t have that specialty trained. So that’s where we’ve been able to come in and kind of complement what they’re doing with the adults by bringing these phenomenal specialists from around the states,” Rickman said.

Although 26 persons were seen during clinic on Monday, only seven were chosen for surgical intervention.

Rickman explained the reason for this.

“Some of them, we want to wait…and follow them, because they might not need surgery. Some of the issues they have will be self-corrected by the body doing it, but if not, we’ll see them every single year and then we’ll follow them until it comes to a point where we say ‘Ok, now we feel like the child is old enough, it didn’t self-correct’ and we’ll do the surgery,” she said.

The CEO added that some children had received surgery before and just came for a follow- up visit.

Other members of the team include Dr Tae Kim, paediatric anaesthesiologist and two nurses, Sheree Dyer and Marybeth Pule.(BK)