History is made in Tiquipaya, Bolivia

Day 2 - June 21, 2013 Who knew it got this cold in Bolivia? We arrived yesterday morning to find our hosts in wool sweaters and polar fleece jackets. While it's the first day of summer back in Chicago, communities here are celebrating winter solstice, and tonight will be the longest night of the year. But we made sure there would be a more important milestone to remember for this chilly day in Tiquipaya!

Dr. Carrie Giordano (left) teaching the Novasure procedure to Dr. Sandro Zambrana, gynecologist and Director of the Municipal Hospital of Tiquipaya (right). Also pictured are Jodi Grahl and hospital interns observing the procedure.

The story starts with a scenario all too familiar to us - limited resources for doctors and hospitals to invest in specialized equipment leaves patients with few treatment options. And those options are often more complex and risky than the latest techniques. A classic example was observed on Solidarity Bridge´s first gynecological program visit to Tiquipaya in September 2012, when our doctors noted the high rate of hysterectomies for conditions they tended to manage back in the U.S. with less invasive procedures.

Image of Dr. Carrie Giordano (left) demonstrating the Novasure procedure at the Municipal Hospital of Tiquipaya.

With that in mind, and thanks to the generous support of the Hologic Company, Dr. Carrie has now introduced a less invasive technique known as the Novasure procedure. When we first mentioned the Novasure procedure several months ago to the local hospital´s director, Dr. Zambrana, he had never heard of it. He consulted with gynecology colleagues throughout the city, and no one else knew about it either. But at 10:16 this morning, the humble Municipal Hospital of Tiquipaya became the first hospital in the province of Cochabamba and possibly in all of Bolivia to treat a woman with the Novasure technique. It took less than 15 minutes and required no cutting or stitches, but will alleviate a debilitating condition that had plagued our patient, Susana, for years. Susana has already been discharged and tomorrow will resume her routine caring for her children, but free of chronic discomfort. Yesterday, her best option had been to undergo a hysterectomy, which would have kept her in the hospital for several days, followed by a grueling month or more of recovery.

A second Novasure patient, Maria del Carmen, is also home with her family by now. We hope to treat more patients in the next few days, providing ample opportunity to leave the local gynecological surgeons fully trained. The specialized machine and a supply of disposable kits needed for the procedure will remain in the PuenteSol office, available for the hospital´s use long after our departure. What a privilege it was to be in the O.R. today!

After meeting and programming a list of other patients and after another surgery, we finished up and left the hospital relatively early tonight - right around 5:00. The winter festivals beckoned our Bolivian colleagues, but we still have a touch of jet lag to overcome, so it will be an early night for us. It´s only 6 and the sun has dipped behind the hills, but our hosts have sent a hot thermos of tea and some cookies to each of our cabins.

Winter in June - now that is an unexpected gift!

Written by Jodi Grahl

Learn more about the Novasure procedure here: http://www.novasure.com/hcp/about-novasure/novasure-procedure.cfm