EARLY CAREER EDITORIAL
Missions Work in Jaipur, India
Sandeep Arya, MBBS
Medical Director of Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care
University of Mississippi Medical Center
I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a team providing cardiac surgical care to children in Jaipur, India for the last four years. Over the last ten years, 170 children have received cardiac surgery in this program. The program was developed by Dr. Peter Pastuszko (Currently at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York), Drs. Sandeep Khanna and Michael Worthen (both at Rady Children's, San Diego), Talya Frey (Chief Perfusionist at Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City), and Dr. Alok Mathur (Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Birla Hospital, Jaipur, India). Over the years, many nurses, nurse practitioners and, pediatric critical care fellows from San Diego, have joined the team. Dr. Sanket Shah (Pediatric Cardiologist at Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City) joined the team two years ago and has been instrumental in assisting with operative planning and imaging. Dr. Alok Mathur and his referral team identify and select patients based severity of illness and financial need. Philanthropy dollars from local donors and the United States fund the program. The complexity of defects treated in the camp has evolved as resources and team availability/expertise continue to grow.
Taking care of these complex patients in a completely new environment is always very challenging, but Dr. Alok Mathur and his team have been exceptional in their hospitality and time commitments to the program. Local hospital operating room staff, perfusionists and nurses have been an enormous help throughout this journey. The program’s infrastructure and hospital staff expertise continues to improve each year and they continue to amaze us, becoming more clinically independent as time goes on.
The founding team deserves special recognition for starting from scratch and bringing this program to its current level. Providing care to a patient population that just a decade ago had no surgical options is an amazing feat. While it is hard to predict the future, development of a freestanding program may be on the horizon within years to come.