Pictured here, left to right, are: Mariano E. Brizzio, M.D., cardiac surgeon of the Valley Columbia Heart Center and active staff member of The Valley Hospital; an adult cardiac patient; and Barbara Ray, R.N., Surgical Intensive Care Unit, of Evanston Hospital, Evanston, Illinois.
On September 21, 2008, a team of 35 volunteers, both medical and non-medical, from four different countries joined together to take part in the 42nd humanitarian mission of CardioStart International. Under the leadership of Mariano E. Brizzio, M.D., a cardiac surgeon of the Valley Columbia Heart Center and an active staff member of The Valley Hospital, the team performed pediatric and adult cardiac surgery in Arequipa, Peru.
"The conditions are extremely challenging in third world countries," said Dr. Brizzio. "There is a profound shortage of basic medical care, equipment, trained personnel, and a dire need for cardiac surgery."
CardioStart International provides free heart surgery and associated medical care to children and adults living in underserved regions of the world, using a global network of volunteer effort and the collective skills of experts in healthcare.
The team performed six adult cardiac operations at the Honorio Delgado public hospital, including intraventricular communication, patent ductus arterioso, double valve replacement, isolated mitral valve replacement, and an atrial mixoma resection. A total of seven pediatric operative cases were completed at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in collaboration with the surgical team from Lima's Children's Hospital, which is currently the only center in Peru performing pediatric heart surgery. Most of the pediatric cases were congenital problems. All of the 13 patients recovered successfully.
Dr. Brizzio is board-certified in general surgery and cardiovascular surgery. He is skilled in all types of cardiothoracic surgery, with special interests in atrial fibrillation, minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery, blood preservation techniques, alternative surgery for heart failure, mechanical assist devices, and heart and lung transplantation.
"Congenital heart and rheumatic valve diseases are the leading causes of cardiovascular morbid-mortality in developing countries," added Dr. Brizzio. He plans to return to Peru next spring to continue his humanitarian work with CardioStart International in third world countries in desperate need of cardiac surgery.