Author: Dr. Gail Granowitz, Short Hills Anesthesiologist
In May 2018, I had the privilege of travelling to Haiti to work with an organization called Innovating Health International (IHI), a nonprofit focused on chronic disease, specifically women’s breast and cervical cancer, in developing countries.
Noncommunicable diseases such as cancer are on the rise in developing world countries, for many reasons. In Haiti, patients with cancer typically present late when they have complicated and often metastatic disease. IHI focuses on patient and community education, awareness, prevention, early diagnosis and, when needed, chemotherapy and surgery.
In Haiti, as in many developing nations, routine access to safe surgery and anesthesia is rare. Patients often avoid surgery or come as a last resort due to the high morbidity and mortality associated with operations. Sadly, most of our patients had very advanced tumors that were extremely painful and bulky, severely impacting their daily life and their ability to care for themselves and their families.
Working with a Brazilian cancer surgeon, we were able to deliver safe, effective anesthesia and surgery that allowed these women to return to life in their communities. Despite staggering obstacles, the patients we served were genuinely grateful, cheerful and determined to live life with joy. Their rates of postoperative wound infections, nausea and vomiting and pain were, surprisingly, very low. The patients’ spirit and resolve was extraordinary, and I am humbled and grateful to have been able to serve them in this way.
I look forward to returning to Haiti in 2019.
Short Hills Surgery Center donated supplies to help support Dr. Granowitz and her mission trip to Haiti.