I grew up in Guyana and did my undergraduate training and subsequently, my internship at the Georgetown Hospital. During my training, I walked these hospital wards, and it was the first place I fell in love with the practise of paediatrics.
It was indeed very upsetting to see the babies and children with congenital heart disease and those with complications of rheumatic heart diseases and cardiac complications of congenital rubella syndrome progressively becoming blue and dying.
After completing my training, I was determined to make a difference in the health of children, but was unsure of where this would happen. I have practised in a few Caribbean countries and subsequently moved to England, where I initially specialised in Paediatrics then subspecialised in Paediatric Intensive Care, working in some of the largest children’s hospital critical care units. I also did my fellowship in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.
During my sub-specialisation, I became heavily involved in charity work, volunteering as the cardiac intensivist for the London based Chain of Hope, which conducts open-heart surgeries while focusing on training local teams. I have volunteered in a number of countries included Egypt, Uganda, Mozambique, Kosovo, Trinidad and Jamaica on multiple occasions.
Volunteering for ICHF’s first medical mission to Guyana
I was always keeping my eye on Guyana, but unfortunately, no one was venturing to this country to conduct any surgeries, and it was heart breaking to hear of the growing list of kids and families desperate for help. Whilst in Toronto, I heard about ICHF and we had some exchanges, but I was unable to attend any of their missions.
When they emailed me about Guyana, to let me know they were conducting a site visit, I was super excited but nervous for Guyana, as I was unsure of the set up for such a major undertaking.
Shortly after, I was contacted to confirm the inaugural mission had been scheduled. I had never worked with any of the ICHF team, so I was excited for multiple reason to meet this team that I’d heard a lot about and even more excited to be returning to Guyana to help with the management of these kids – a lifelong dream, from medical school days to making blue babies pink again!
I arrived for the second week of the trip, and was impressed beyond words with the set up of the intensive care. Indeed there was much work to be done and much more for us to do, but having worked in other countries on multiple occasion and comparing to what Guyana / ICHF has done, it was impressive.
The team I met was absolutely welcoming, and within a few minutes, I felt as I’d known them and worked with them before. It really does make a difference having a cohesive and experienced team in these intense environments with all focus being on the development of the local team, the kids and their families, and this is what I experienced immediately.
The team worked tirelessly to ensure a first world level care was delivered at all levels to these children and their families. The local team needed significant support, as it was overwhelming for many, but you can see the relief on their faces having experienced nurses, doctors, an RT and a biomedical engineer at their side.
I was really impressed and so happy that we were able to discharged all the kids on this mission with good outcomes and to also ensure we were able to conduct training.
I look forward to the privilege of working with Team Baby Heart again in the future.