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Mission Detail
Place:   Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Date:   06/29/2032
Team Members:   10
Operations:   21
Mission Log

So far, we have done 18 surgeries

Sunday October 12, 2008 05:46:27 PM
So far, we have done 18 surgeries and we'll perform 3 more before we leave.  All of the kids are doing very well.  Five patients have already been discharged from the hospital and gone home.  We leave tomorrow and our next trip to Pakistan is scheduled for this coming June.
-Martina Pavanic, ICHF Surgical & Volunteer Coordinator 

Here are a few more pictures from Pakistan!

Sunday October 12, 2008 05:46:27 PM
Here are a few more pictures from Pakistan!
-Kirsten Rieder


Here are the first of many pictures from our trip to Pakistan

Sunday October 12, 2008 05:46:27 PM

Here are the first of many pictures from our trip to Pakistan. We have been enjoying a wonderful journey through a world we haven't been part of before, at a hospital that has been a beautifully gracious host to us. We all feel very fortunate to be here.
I arrived in Islamabad last Sunday, January 29th, after a couple of very long flights from Salt Lake City, UT. Although they were long, all of the flights were very comfortable and I was so excited about the trip that I really felt like I was here in no time. In the airport in Islamabad, I first met Dr. Novick, Martina, Liddy from New Zealand and Barb from Iowa.
Sunday night I met the rest of the team. There is Pam, Anne, and Tonya, from San Francisco, Pia from Denmark, and Shamim from Michigan. I suppose between us all we cover quite a bit of the globe, including Martina from Croatia.
Sunday night, the Physicians and PICU nurses hosted the first of many fabulous dinners for us in our living quarters. It was a lovely dinner and the Commandant of the AFIC welcomed us to work at the hospital and told us that Pakistan is a wonderful place. He wished for us a good visit and that we come with listening ears and open minds. Also on Sunday, we were able to see some of the patients that were candidates for surgery in the upcoming two weeks. All of the children were adorable with big eyes, and of course some of them with very low Oxygen saturations. We could see that open-heart surgery was vital to the survival of many of these patients. The parents were very scared of the days to come, but Dr. Novick took time to answer all of their questions regarding their child’s pending operation.
Monday morning was the first case. He was a TAPVR that we all fell in love with. He was very sweet with big eyes. He was extubated soon after surgery and was able to go out to the ward the next day. I have included a picture of him with Tonya in these pictures.
As the week went on, we were able to work closely with the group of trained pediatric ICU nurses they have here at the AFIC. The program that was set up is phenomenal and the nurses are not only very knowledgeable, but also very kind. They all speak very good English and have welcomed us into their ICU.
Besides working, we have had the opportunity to get out and visit Pakistan thanks to Major Nasser and his lovely wife. We visited the Faisal Mosque, pictured below, which is a very amazing Muslim mosque that cost $120 billion to build. We were also taken to the Taxila Museum where we were able to see many Buddhist and Hindu artifacts. To many, Taxila is the birthplace of Buddhism. It was very special to be there. Afterward, were able to tour the Wah Gardens and Wah Village. Then we had a picnic by a river in the village of Wah. It was a very nice day to spend with everyone outside of the hospital; we drank tea and ate Pakistani cuisine. We had all hoped that the food would not be so good on this trip so that we would go back home feeling couple of pounds lighter. But, unfortunately the food here is very good and, if anything, all of our clothes are fitting a bit tighter these days!!!
Of course, there are always concerns about our safety when coming to the Middle East, but we have not had any problems and we have been treated very well here. We do have security personnel and guards around keeping an eye on us and we are not allowed to roam freely around Rawalpindi. We all feel very safe, and if anything, too safe!! It was difficult for us to get used to having protection all the time, especially since everyone has been so kind. But we have had many opportunities here to shop for pashminas, and carpets, tour museums and go to beauty salons, so we can not complain that security is too tight.
The surgeries have all done well and most of them have been extubated within the first few hours following surgery. We have had one patient that has failed extuabtion twice and has given us a bit of a run for our money. Cardiac-wise, he is stable. He just needs to get stronger for extubation, as well as heal from his sepsis. All of us have grown very fond of him, and I will be sending a picture of him on bipap during one of the times he was extubated. 
The monitors here are very nice, as are the ventilators. There is definitely some equipment they are lacking, like alcohol swabs and gloves; but as far as vents and monitoring and pacemakers, they are very well equipped. If I were to come back, I would bring some new intubation blades and handles, as they have not always been reliable and some of the blades are broken. I'm not sure of what their needs are from a nursing standpoint, but you can understand how as the only Respiratory Therapist I would be concerned about the intubation supplies.
On Monday night this week, we were very privileged to attend a very spectacular dinner for the Surgeon General of Pakistan. He was very much responsible for setting up this cardiac program with Dr. Novick here in Rawalpindi. It was an honor to be invited to the party. All of the men sat on one side of the room and all the women sat on the other side. All the women wore full burqa dresses made of beautiful colors and embroidery. The women who I have met here are very well educated and sophisticated. They are very happy people as well. It was admittingly quite nice to be with just the ladies so we could have girl talk while the men were together on the other side. I know that some would view this as segregation but I feel that word is quite negative and inappropriate for the situation. This is their culture and they seemed very content in their practice and respect of their traditions.
I am very thankful for this opportunity to be here with International Children's Heart Foundation. It is not every day, or even every year, that you are shown how similar we all are inside and out around the world. And what better way to bond together and share our different cultures than over the bedside of an innocent child who knows nothing about stereotypes and politics. All we need to do is smile and when they smile back at you, you forget that you are away from your comfortable life at home and experiencing something greater than ourselves and a oneness of people around the world. I hope to share with you more experiences of our time here in Pakistan before I head back to the United States!
-Kirsten Rieder 

From Left to Right: Nurses Pia, Tonya, Anne and Martina                                                       (From Left to Right): ICHF nurses Pia Vilstrup, Tanja Gabrovsek, Anne Curry and Martina Pavanic

                                                                Tanja Gabrovsek and our 1st post-op heart surgery patient (TAPVR)

                                                                  ICHF nurse Shamim Ullah (left) and me on our way to Faisal Mosque

                                                                  View of the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad

                                                                    Our favorite patient, Umair, on unsuccessful attempt at avoiding reintubation

                                                                 Post-op patient snuggling with a blanket that Shamim Ullah brought from Michigan