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A combined project sponsored by the International Institute of The University of Massachusetts Medical Center (UMMC), and The International Children's Heart Fund, was undertaken to help assist and develop open- heart surgery capability at the Clinica Pichinca in Quito, Ecuador. All services, equipment, and supplies were voluntary and donated. Each volunteer donated personal vacation time towards the eight-day project in Quito, Ecuador.
The project developed following an invitation by Juan Carlos Zevallos, M.D., the Chief of Cardiology at Clinca Pichinca in Quito, Ecuador. Dr. Zevallos had coordinated a series of exchange programs from UMMC with the Clinica in cooperation with Ira Okene, M.D., of the Cardiology division at UMMC. Interest was expressed to develop and strengthen the open- heart surgery capability at the Clinica Pichinca.
A. Thomas Pezzella, M.D., cardiac surgeon at UMMC and St. Vincent's Hospital made a trip to Quito, Ecuador in May 1995, to work out the details. A formal invitation was made and accepted.
A team of six, including Dr. Pezzella, Robert Giasi, M.D., Cardiac Anesthesia, UMMC, Michael Bol, Biomedical Engineering, UMMC, Mary Perras, RN, Cardiac Surgery Nursing, UMMC, Robert Picotte, Chief Perfusionist, SVH, and Blanche Kidd, Cardiac Surgery OR Technician, departed on September 23, 1995, for one week at the Clinica Pichinca in Quito, Ecuador. A series of 3 open-heart operations were performed in cooperation with the local staff. This included two mitral valve replacements and closure of a congenital VSD. Combined teaching conferences and lectures were also given. Equipment and supplies donated to the project were shipped to Quito, Ecuador prior. Other items accompanied the team. All expenses were paid for by voluntary donations of the individual team members and the International Children's Heart Fund.
A subsequent report summarizing the team report and recommendations was made. It was hoped that future collaboration with Clinica Pichinca would develop. This would include rotations of medical students, staff and personnel for further training at UMMC and SVH. Collaborative research, both basic and clinical, were planned. Dr. Juan Carlos along with Dr. A. Thomas Pezzella and Dr. Ira Okene would organize and implement these future activities under the direction of the International Institute at UMMC in Worcester, MA and the Clinica Pichinca in Quito, Ecuador.