Training in Pediatric Neurosurgery Gives Hope

By: Mary McCann Sanchez

Today, our Neurosurgery mission team lands in Bolivia with great anticipation for the days to come. All Solidarity Bridge missions are compelling but I must admit that I am particularly excited about this team’s work in Santa Cruz de la Sierra this week. US and Bolivian neurosurgeons will lead a two-day course on Pediatric Neurosurgery. Neurosurgery is a growing specialty in Bolivia and Solidarity Bridge has been a key partner in training and equipping from the earliest days.

Dr. DiPatri (left) discusses a case with with Bolivian doctors during our Neurosurgery Boot Camp training.

Dr. DiPatri (left) discusses a case with with Bolivian doctors during our Neurosurgery Boot Camp training.

Travelling on this trip is Dr. Art DiPatri, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. Dr. DiPatri will lead the course, which will consist of mentored surgeries, lectures and hands-on work-stations. Dr. Richard Moser, Chief Neurosurgeon at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, is the medical director of the mission. Solidarity Bridge Founder, Juan Lorenzo Hinojosa joins the team as trip coordinator and interpreter. Finally, Dr. Kristin Greenan from the University of California Davis Medical Center joins as a Sotak Scholar, bringing the new generation of US neurosurgeons into our Solidarity Bridge community.

They will also be joined by Gustavo Arreguín Mendoza who is serving as the Benezet Intern for Solidarity Bridge. Gustavo will spend the next two months with us in Bolivia, as an interpreter on all of our fall mission trips, and working with our partners at Puente de Solidaridad. You’ll hear more from Gustavo in our upcoming blogs.

What makes this mission particularly compelling?

This course, which follows two previous professional development courses in the past 12 months, permits Bolivian residents and neurosurgeons to delve into the particularities of neurosurgery for children. By training neurosurgeons in this complex area, more Bolivian children with cancer or tumors will have hope for a better chance in life.

I am heartened by the high level of participation. Currently registered in the course are participants from four Bolivian cities as well as Mexico.

Faculty participation is exciting too. In addition to our US doctors, Bolivian neurosurgeons will also lead several lectures, serve as attending surgeons and provide guidance at work stations. Importantly, they will provide an overview on the status of pediatric neurosurgery in the country that so warmly receives us as missioners. As always, this kind of interchange is what keeps us grounded and guides us forward as we work together in solidarity for the development of neurosurgery in Bolivia. In this effort we are one. Somos uno.

Stay tuned for more on our blog, or like us on Facebook to see more frequent updates.

Mary McCann Sanchez is the Senior Director of Programs at Solidarity Bridge. She oversees all programs and acts as our liaison with our local partner organization Puente de Solidaridad.