March 18, 2014 — Humble Surgical Hospital-affiliated facial plastic surgeons Dr. Ifepo Sofola, Dr. Jose Barrera (Lt. Colonel US Air Force), and Dr. Anthony Brissett (Director of the Baylor Facial Plastic Surgery Center) along with Humble Surgical Hospital-affiliated anesthesiologist, Dr. Ju Kuo Kuang and Humble Surgical Hospital surgical assistant Walter Young recently returned from Rwanda where they performed facial reconstruction surgery on patients in need. These patients were identified by local surgeons and the medical team travelled as part of the Face the Future Missions organization to provide surgery at no cost to patients. Dr. Sofola, head of the facial plastic surgery department at Humble Surgical Hospital, led the facial plastic surgery team that includes physicians from Humble Surgical Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, SUNY downstate New York, University of Regensburg in Germany, and University of Toronto. As part of the initiative, the team trained local surgeons on the latest surgical techniques and advances.
The team was in Rwanda from February 23 through February 29 and performed 40 complex procedures within four days. The patients were suffering from numerous disfiguring conditions such as ameloblastoma and some of are victims from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. These complex surgeries typically last 8-10 hours each.
Face the Future Missions is a voluntary humanitarian and surgical exchange program for children living in the developing world, sponsored by the Canadian Foundation for Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. According to the Face the Futures Missions website, “Mission volunteers treat one face, one person at a time, despite the complexity of the case or the limitations that local conditions might place upon them. New concepts in surgical treatment are openly shared so that professional best practices continue to benefit the clinic and future patients long after the North American team has left.”
As Dr. Sofola shares, this medical mission offers two unique service opportunities for the surgical team. “We all have decided to give our time this way because this is indeed why we went in to medicine in the first place; to use our talent to help alleviate pain and suffering,” he says. “In addition, a compelling attraction was the opportunity to build capacity by teaching. As the expression states – give a man fish, he eats for one day; teach him to fish, he eats forever”. The surgical team ends their stay by providing education to local surgeons at a conference coordinated by the Face the Future Missions.
Humble Surgical Hospital played a pivotal role in the mission. The hospital donated equipment valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars along with other medical supplies. In addition, the hospital provided human resources by supporting the travels of surgical assistant Walter Young who aided the surgeons in their efforts. “As a direct result of this partnership, the Rwanda Military Hospital has been able to build up their intensive care unit,” states Dr. Sofola. “We are in line with them to improve their operations and capabilities.”
For more information about The Face the Futures Missions, please visit http://facethefuturefoundation.ca/site/ To learn more about the physicians and services at Humble Surgical Hospital, please visit www.humblesurgical.com or call 281-964-2100. Interviews with physicians can be coordinated and photos from the mission are available.