blog-post

PCRF Hosts International Conference on Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

On March 18, the PCRF hosted the International Palestinian Cardiac Relief Organization (IPCRO) meeting in Ramallah. This is a team of international and local consultants who volunteer their time to help build a pediatric cardiac surgery program to serve the hundreds of children each year who are born with heart defects in the occupied territories. The PCRF previously built the first and only pediatric cardiac surgery program in Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, but that department's ability to care for all of the kids with heart defects falls short, leaving many dependent on services outside of Palestine or in the private sector. Attending this conference, in addition to the doctors and nurses from the Palestine Medical Complex, directed by Dr. Ahmed Bitawi and including head of the cardiac surgery department Dr. Ahmed Darwazeh and the head of the pediatric cardiac program Dr. Mahmoud Nashashibi, as well as the head of nursing Salam Alratrout. Representing IPCRO was the outgoing president Dr. Alan Kerr from New Zealand, who has volunteered on over 35 missions to Palestine with the PCRF and provided life-saving surgery for more than 800 Palestinian children. Also joining was the former head of IPCRO Dr. V. Stefano Luisi from Italy, who has lead dozens of volunteer missions to Palestine, including two so far in 2017. Rush University pediatric cardiologist Dr. Ra-id Abdulla, who has been on over a dozen volunteer missions for the PCRF to Palestine and Iraq. Florida cardiac surgeon Dr. Imad Tabry also joined the meeting. He first volunteered for the PCRF in 2000 in Gaza. Also joining the meeting was pediatric cardiac surgeon from the University of Ghent in Belgium, Dr. Thierry Bove, who has been on several past surgery missions to Palestine, as well as our newest member, Dr. Victor Bautista-Hernandez from Spain. Pediatric anesthesiologist and intensive care doctor Dr. David Buckley also presented his thoughts on the needs of the program for the forty attendees. The results of the meeting was to set a five year goal for developing an independent program that includes volunteer surgery missions, training, the future of the Gaza program, the expansion of the department and publishing the work of the program.