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Posts Tagged ‘surgeon’

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Image: India Marshall; iStock; Lily illustration
She woke up from a surgery with her hair perfectly braided. Her black male doctor braids his daughters’ hair; the surprise he gave his patient touched her heart.

The Washington Post has a newsletter called the Optimist that I’m really enjoying. This story about a surgeon who understood what a patient’s hair might mean to her is something the newsletter shared recently. Some folks might find the doctor’s act uncomfortably personal, but the point is his patient didn’t.

Soo Youn writes at the Lily, “For the past couple of years, India Marshall has been contemplating getting another surgery to have bone growths in her head removed. She had already undergone one operation when she was about 20 years old.

“Now 29, and working as a manager in a primary care clinic, Marshall was experiencing more growth from her osteomas. While not dangerous, they can be painful. Several had started to grow on her forehead and between her eyes, making it uncomfortable and annoying when she wore her glasses. She met with a few surgeons about getting them removed. …

“Jewel Greywoode, an ear, nose and throat physician who specializes in cosmetic and functional facial plastic surgery [was] the only surgeon who mentioned going though Marshall’s nose so she wouldn’t be left with scars on her face. The other doctors told her she would need an ear-to-ear incision on her head, and hair might not grow back over the scar. Marshall underwent a successful surgery on June 9. …

“For the first couple days after the surgery, she went in and out of consciousness, her head wrapped. But when her mother and husband took off the bandages to clean the incisions, Marshall noticed that she had more braids in her hair. She went in with two loose braids, but woke up with four or five smaller ones.

‘I remember waking up and there were two black nurses helping me get myself together, helping me get my clothes on to go and I just assumed they did it. I was like, “Who else would have known how to braid?” …

” ‘I loved that whoever did it had thought of it because it was very easy to get to the incisions and clean. My hair wasn’t matted or in the way, and it was just easier for the recovery process,’ Marshall said. …

“On Wednesday, she went in for her last post-op appointment. As Greywoode removed her staples, Marshall says he noticed that she had redone her hair with smaller braids and commented, ‘Oh your braids are better than mine. I hope I didn’t do too bad,’ she recounted. …

“Greywoode told her he has two little girls and he braids and twists their hair. That he participates in the maintenance required for his daughters’ natural hair really moved Marshall.

“ ‘Natural hair is a lot of work,’ she said. … ‘To be honest there are not a lot of dads that [can] help with hair. … It was a very nice gesture and it just spoke to my bigger point of having black doctors and them being able to identify with patients.’

“Greywoode also told Marshall that he chose to staple the opening over suturing, because when you remove stitches, you often have to cut the surrounding hair. … ‘That was another part that showed me that he gets it.’ ”

What Marshall wrote on Twitter @IndiaDionna: “thinking about this black man braiding my hair to prepare to cut my head open is hilarious and endearing at the same time. also the fact that he’s that active in helping his wife with their girls, I love it. moral of the story: find black doctors.”

More here.

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Photo: Edwin Ongom, CURE International
Aisha holds her daughter at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda. Uganda surgeons are teaching Western doctors a technique to cure hydrocephalus in infants.

Western medical professionals are learning that offering medical insight in the Third World can be a two-way street. In this story, Westerners are benefiting from the teaching of some Ugandan surgeons.

Michaeleen Doucleff writes at National Public Radio, “It’s not every day that surgeons develop a new brain surgery that could save tens of thousands of babies, even a hundred thousand, each year. And it’s definitely not every day that the surgery is developed in one of the world’s poorest countries.

“But that’s exactly what neurosurgeons from Boston and Mbale, Uganda, report [last December] in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The treatment is for a scary condition in which a baby’s head swells up, almost like balloon. It’s called hydrocephalus, or ‘water on the brain.’ But a more accurate description is ‘spinal fluid inside the brain.’

“Inside our brains, there are four chambers that continually fill up and release spinal fluid. So their volume stays constant.

“In babies with hydrocephalus, the chambers don’t drain properly. They swell up, putting pressure on the brain. If left untreated about half the children will die, and the others will be badly disabled.

“Traditionally doctors treat hydrocelphalus in the U.S. with what’s called a shunt: They place a long tube in the baby’s brain, which allows the liquid to drain into the child’s stomach.

“But a third of the time, these shunts fail within two years, says Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin, a neurosurgeon at the University of Calgary. …

“For many kids in rural Uganda — and other poor countries — emergency neurosurgery isn’t an option. ‘They’re going to die from a shunt malfunction,’  says [Dr. Benjamin Warf, a neurosurgeon at Harvard Medical School, who led the development of the new method at a clinic in Uganda]. …

“So Warf and his colleagues decided to innovate. … In the new method, doctors basically poke a hole in the brain’s chambers so they can drain. They also prevented the chambers from filling back up by partially damaging the region of the brain that produces spinal fluid. …

“After 15 years of testing and optimizing, he and his team can finally say that their approach — at least in the short term — appears to be just as effective as the procedure commonly used here in the U.S.

“In the study, Warf and his colleagues tested the two methods on about 100 children in Uganda. After 12 months, the doctors couldn’t detect a difference in the children’s brain volume or cognitive skills. …

“The new technique has been so successful in developing countries that American doctors are now traveling to Uganda to learn how to do the technique from Ugandan doctors.

” ‘The doctors at the clinic in Uganda are wizards at the [new] method,’ says Riva-Cambrin. ‘They’re the ones that taught me the procedure.’ ”

More at NPR, here.

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