Hearts around the Word, Inc went to Nairob,i Kenya in Feb. 2011. The team included Dr. Robert Jarrett (cardiologist), Dr. Eli Gelfand (cardiologist) and Dr. Cary Passik (cardiothoracic surgeon).
Click here to view a film documenting their trip.
Read our blog about the trip by our adult cardiac team of 7, with team
leader Dr. Robert Jarrett to Vietnam during October 2010.
Click here to read the full Report by Robert M. Jarrett, MD – President Hearts Around the World, Inc.
11/14/09 describing the trip during October 16th to October 24th.
(This PDF will open in a new window.)
Cardiac Mission to Choray Hospital in
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Local doctors set to begin Vietnam mission.
By Robert Miller
© 10/05/2009 From Traveling Care, The News Times.
Cardiologist Dr. Robert Jarrett has been traveling abroad on medical missions for two decades. For 15 years, he traveled twice a year to St. Petersburg in Russia in a program that brought cardiac care in that city -- frozen in place by the Cold War -- into the modern era.
So it might seem he'd become a bit blase after foreign travel. Not this time.
"I'm more pumped up about this trip than any I've been on in the past 20 years,'' he said.
The trip, which will begin Oct. 16, will take Jarrett and a team of doctors and nurses -- mostly from Danbury Hospital -- to Choray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
"We wanted very much to involve Danbury Hospital in this work,'' said Minoo Afkari-Jarrett, who is Jarrett's wife and who will have the duel roles of administrator and photographer on the trip. "We welcome them with open arms.''
At Choray Hospital, the team will work with the hospital's cardiologists to teach them the best practices of cardiology and open-heart surgery.
While Jarrett has been laying the groundwork for the trip for years -- years of trust-building -- this is the first time he'll bring a full team of 11 people with him. It's also the first big trip sponsored by Hearts Around the World Inc., the non-profit organization Jarrett set up to fund this work.
And it's the first of many trips he'll be making to lead the project.
"In Russia we made 28 trips over 15 years,'' he said. "That's what it took to bring them up to speed.''
Before the Russian project -- which was sponsored by Healing the Children NE, based in New Milford -- Jarrett had gone on other international missions. He realized that simply stopping in a country for a few hours to deliver supplies, or a few days to perform surgery wasn't enough.
"If you send a team of plastic surgeons to a country and they spend one or two days doing operations there, that does no good once they leave,'' he said. "They have to come back.''
Instead, the mission to Ho Chi Minh City -- formerly Saigon -- will have the American doctors and nurses working side by side with their Vietnamese counterparts. By working with them and by teaching them, they'll improve the medical techniques at the hospital over time.
The team this time will have a Danbury Hospital cohort of Dr. Cary Passik, a cardiac surgeon at Danbury Hospital; Dr. Ilya Zhuravlev, an anesthesiologist; Catherine Cassidy, the hospital's head operating room nurse; Angela Watts, the cardiac nurse in the intensive care unit, and Rick Rigling, a sonographer.
Two others -- Dr. Carl Reimers, an interventional cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, and Timothy Hansen, a cardiac physician's assistant from Yale-New Haven Hospital -- will complete the team.
For Passik, the decision to spend 16 hours in an airplane flying from New York to Hong Kong, have a three-hour layover, fly three more hours to Ho Chi Minh City, work hard in a foreign hospital, then take the same 22-hour trip home was an easy one.
"Bob Jarrett is an outstanding person -- we're lucky to have him here,'' Passik said. "He asked me to come with him. That's enough for me.''
Jarrett said the problems the doctors will face in Ho Chi Minh City will involve things doctors don't see in the United States. Because of modern antibiotics, doctors don't see rheumatic fever much in America. Nor do they see the valve damage rheumatic fever can cause.
"I'm sure there will be things they learn from us and things we'll learn from them,'' Passik said.
But what they will see is a country that's young and on the road to modernity. That means a lot of people who smoke, who have high blood pressure, diabetes and clogged arteries.
"The rate of diabetes has increased three-fold in Vietnam over the past 20 years,'' he said.
They'll also work in a hospital that gets people from the center of the city and from tiny villages.
"Saigon is a very big city with something like 10 million people in it,'' Jarrett said. "But its cachement area is a all of South Vietnam, which has 40 million people.''
However, Jarrett said, the doctors at Choray Hospitral are young, very hard working and eager to learn. That makes life easier than dealing with obstinacy, which he sometimes encountered in Russia.
"In Russia, sometimes, it was like getting a gorilla to move,'' he said.
While Jarrett is busy in Choray Hospital -- serving as a sort of one-man, ad hoc diplomatic team when he's not teaching cardiology -- his wife plans to leave the city to scout for at least one village that would be a suitable location for a clinic.
The hope is that while improving health care at Choray Hospital, the team can find ways to spread that care into the countryside.
Jarrett has already planned the second trip -- a pediatric cardiology mission led by Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi of the Children's Hospital of St. Louis.
He and Minoo are also planning a second fund-raising event in Danbury on Feb. 13 to benefit Hearts Around the World.
The hope is that through such constant work -- twice-a-year trips over the next decade -- modern cardiology will take root in Vietnam.
"My goal,'' Jarrett said, "is to get them to the point where they don't need us anymore.''
Keep checking our web site
for additional information about this exciting project and ongoing photo
updates after the team arrives in Ho Chi Minh City.
First Annual Hearts Around the World
Breakfast Fundraiser a great success!
On Tuesday April 7, 2009 Hearts Around the World,
Inc. sponsored its first annual breakfast fundraiser at the Ethan
Allen Inn in Danbury, Connecticut. We were very excited about
this initial opportunity to tell the public about our current projects
and our future goals. The event was very successfull and we would like
to thank everyone who contributed funds to support our fall of 2009 team
of pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who will be helping to
save the lives of children with congenital heart disease in Saigon, Vietnam.
For more information, contact Menoo Afkari-Jarrett
at 203 733 3222