Pediatric Neurosurgery Team Collaborates with Uganda’s Neurosurgical Residency Program

Pediatric Neurosurgery Team at Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital Stanford Collaborates with Uganda’s Neurosurgical Residency Program

The pediatric neurosurgery team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has just returned from Uganda, where surgeons, nurses, operating room technicians, residents, and Stanford medical students spent a week volunteering at the Mbarara Hospital, working side-by-side with Ugandan doctors removing brain tumors, clipping complex brain aneurysms, treating hydrocephalus, and repairing spina bifida in addition to a host of other cranial and spinal surgeries. Led by chief of pediatric neurosurgery Gerald Grant MD, a Faculty Fellow in the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health and spine surgeon Anand Veeravagu MD, the team from Stanford worked closely with colleagues from Duke University under the leadership of Dr. Michael Haglund. The team kept three operating rooms overfilled for four straight days doing three to four cases per room each day.

In addition to helping with a collection of especially challenging neurosurgery cases from the region, the team also contributed to Uganda’s neurosurgery residency program by mentoring its neurosurgeons in training. Ten years ago, there were only five neurosurgeons in all of Uganda. Today, thanks to thriving neurosurgery residency programs in Mbarara and Kampala, there are 12, with a dozen more in the training pipeline. Those surgeons serve Uganda’s quickly-growing population of more than 44 million citizens.

Ugandan doctors at Mbarara Hospital

“The Ugandan doctors we worked with are incredibly passionate about neurosurgery,” says Zachary Medress MD, a 5th-year neurosurgery resident at Stanford. “Most of the brain surgery they do is trauma,” he says. “But we’re showing them some of our techniques for how to also treat brain tumors and aneurysms. It’s been a great collaboration.”

“It was an unbelievable week. Working side by side with the Ugandan team, and our colleagues from Duke, we were able to have a real impact in a short period of time,” says Dr. Grant. “To improve a child’s life and to restore his or her vision…to leave a footprint of what we did for that child for years to come…it’s been an incredible experience for our entire team.”

The program was launched a decade ago and is a close collaboration between neurosurgery and global health teams at Duke and Stanford who meet in Mbarara or Kampala once or twice a year.

“With very few resources, we do what we can to improve the infrastructure at the hospital and to help the neurosurgeons do more and more every time we visit,” says Dr. Grant, who was there for his sixth visit this year. “It’s amazing to see how much the program has accomplished,” he says.

“When a child has been diagnosed with a tumor that was deemed inoperable there,” says Stanford nurse practitioner Sheri Loo,who was part of the 7-person team for Packard Children’s, “they call it a miracle when we can help remove it and the child can walk out of the unit and go back to their lives without any deficits. It’s amazingly gratifying.”

“There’s so much more to do; it’s always hard to leave,” says Dr. Grant. “But we’ll be back.”


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)