A Busy Month of Surgery in November

by Karen Haney

November has been a busy month for surgery at St. Luc Hospital! We started off with a general surgery team from Boise, Idaho under Dr. Johnny Green from Saint Alphonsus Boise, followed by a head and neck surgery team from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under Dr. Joe Curry from Jefferson Hospital, and concluded by a urology and critical care team under Dr. Bhavesh Patel from Mayo Clinic Arizona.

The urology and critical care team was a collaboration of physicians from Mayo Clinic Arizona, Mayo Clinic Minnesota, and Memorial Hospital of South Bend. The team’s main focus was performing Holmium Laser Enucleations of the prostate (HoLEPs) for 42 of St. Luc’s patients. The HoLEP is a cutting-edge and minimally invasive procedure that uses the manipulation of a laser system to treat an enlarged prostate. Several of these patients had been suffering from their symptoms for years, and the team’s efforts brought incredible relief and improvement in quality of life to those treated.

Perhaps one of the most memorable parts of the trip came late in the week. On Thursday, after already completing 36 procedures, a critical piece of equipment became misaligned and therefore unusable. This was the scope necessary to use the laser, so at first, it seemed that the remaining six cases would go untreated. But after much effort on the part of the surgical team and the staff at St. Luc, the surgeons were connected with Dr. Auberg, a local urologist in Port-au-Prince who had an older version of that same scope in use at his office. He generously waited for the team to meet him there, and he volunteered his scope for Friday’s procedures.

However, in trying to fit this borrowed scope to the laser on Thursday evening, this scope broke as well. The team was not only devastated that they had broken Dr. Auberg’s scope (which will of course now be replaced by the team with an upgraded version), but they were left worried again that they had no options for Friday’s procedures. Yet Dr. Auberg had another urologist contact also willing to loan his office’s scope to the team for the day. After much coordination, arrangements were made to deliver the scope to St. Luc on Friday morning.

When Dr. Auburg arrived with the second scope, he remained with the team for the day, observing and assisting with the remaining procedures. What initially appeared to be a catastrophic equipment failure that would prematurely end the team’s work turned into an incredible opportunity to make lasting connections with the urology community in Port-au-Prince, collaborating and sharing both equipment and ideas. The team hopes that these networks will only continue to build during their future trips, and they were most grateful for Dr. Auberg’s generosity and patience.

The staff and patients at St. Luc would like to extend a huge thanks to all of those visiting doctors, nurses, and technicians who made November such a successful month for surgical patients!