US Surgeons Operate On 10 Children In Ukraine, Plan 4 New Trips - Team Leader

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 30th September, 2022) A group of surgeons from the US-based Bill Novick Cardiac Alliance last week operated on ten children in Lviv, Ukraine, and is planning to make four additional trips to the country during the remainder of this year and in 2023, team leader Bill Novick told Sputnik.

"We operated on ten children. We were open to do more surgeries - 16 or 17, but that is not what happened," Novick said upon returning to the United States after his 12-day trip to Ukraine.

Novick pointed out that several surgeries were canceled at the last minute because the patients developed fever the night before their operation or arrived at the hospital with different symptoms of cold.

The children are doing well and almost all, except two, have already returned home, Novick said.

"We have two children left in the intensive care unit. One because he may or may not need a pacemaker. Right now, he is on a temporary pacemaker and the local doctors are waiting to see if his regular electrical system recovers," he said.

Another child faced respiratory problems.

"He is not on the ventilator, he is breathing spontaneously, but he has got either bronchitis or low-grade pneumonia," the doctor added.

Speaking about security conditions during the trip, Novick acknowledged that he heard air radar signals every day, but fortunately, nothing serious has happened.

"We heard daily air raid signals, but no missile strikes or anything like that while we were there. Just air raid signals," he said.

The team is planning additional trips to Lviv, hoping that the security situation will allow it to continue the work.

"If everything is ok, we are going to Lviv on December 5 and will stay until December 17 for another two-week program, and then back next year in March, June, September and December," Novick said.

The Cardiac Alliance established a pediatric heart surgery project in Lviv last year given that there were no such programs in the western part of Ukraine at that time and children had to travel to Kiev and other cities to receive relevant treatment.


Novick also said the alliance is ready to resume programs in Russia as soon as their Russian colleagues are ready.

The alliance planned to visit Kemerovo last spring to operate on children with conditions requiring complex surgeries, however local colleagues asked them to postpone the trip due to financial issues. They did not cancel the previously scheduled program in December, but Novick said he had not heard a single word from them since.

Novick suggested that due to the current global geopolitical situation, the Russian doctors are really worried about the perception of bringing an American foundation to Kemerovo at this time.

"I totally understand that. So, I think realistically my answer would be - it is highly unlikely that we will be going to Kemerovo in December," he said.

The doctor said he is ready to wait for an answer from Kemerovo until early November and he is going to contact them next week.

"November 1 is like the very last second. But here is the problem - my Russian visa has expired. So, I do not know if I can actually get a visa in time to go, plus I have to accumulate a team," Novick said.

While waiting for a reaction from Kemerovo, Novick said he continues maintaining online contacts with colleagues from other Russian cities, where he worked before.

"I talked to my colleagues in Voronezh last week. They are not doing the number of cases that they would like to do, but they are operating between two and four children every week, and they are very thankful for the training and the experience that we provided for them," he said.

In September, the cardiologist communicated with doctors in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.

"They are happy with that they are doing," he said. "From the point of view of our reputation, this war in Ukraine has not impacted their view of us - I mean the help that we provided."

The Cardiac Alliance has conducted some 500 surgeries in Russia since 2008. Previously, the Cardiac Alliance performed surgeries in several Russian cities, including Voronezh and Nizhny Novgorod.

The group is comprised of medical specialists from different countries who usually work in "hot spots" around the world.