NEWS | December 19, 2018

Cardiothoracic surgery team brings advanced heart care to Mexico

Mexico trip
Mary Zanobini, Gary Raff, Olesya Dushkova and Victor Rodriguez (left to right) of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Pediatric Heart Center are helping Heart to Heart Global Cardiac Care establish a congenital heart disease treatment program in northern Mexico.

(SACRAMENTO) — A medical team led by UC Davis cardiothoracic surgeons Gary Raff and Victor Rodriguez recently traveled to Torreón in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, to treat children — from newborns to teens — with congenital heart defects.

Together with local cardiologists at Hospital Universitario Dr. Joaquin del Valle Sanchez, the team provided diagnoses, surgical procedures and post-operative treatment. Their ultimate goal is to develop the first children’s heart program in northern Mexico.

At a nearby public hospital called the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Rodriguez also is establishing a long-term collaboration focused on treating valvular disease in adult patients.

Torreon with Raff and Serrano-Gallardo
Gary Raff (left) provides guidance on heart surgery in children to Gerardo Serrano, a cardiac surgeon at the university hospital in Torreón.

The trip was arranged by Heart to Heart Global Cardiac Care and its medical director, J. Nilas Young, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at UC Davis Health.

“It is easy in the U.S. to take for granted what advanced cardiac care has done to improve and extend lives,” Young said. “In many parts of the world, those expert resources are hard to come by, if they are available at all. It is an honor to share the expertise of UC Davis to train health care teams beyond our borders on the latest techniques for heart care.”

In Coahuila alone, more than 500 children are born each year with congenital heart conditions, according to Heart to Heart. There currently is little expertise in the region to address these issues, especially early in life when they are most likely to be cured. This is why a significant goal of all Heart to Heart medical missions is to train local physicians in creating sustainable heart-care programs.

Joining Raff and Rodriguez in making that happen in Coahuila were intensivist Grace Arteaga of Mayo Clinic, PICU nurse Glen Au of Mayo Clinic, anesthesiologist Laura Berenstain of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, perfusionist Alexander Chappell of Children’s Hospital of Philadephia, surgical technician Olesya Dushkova of UC Davis Health, cardiologist Kavitha Pundi of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, echosonographer Dina Taylor-Schmidt of UC Davis Health and PICU nurse Mary Zanobini of UC Davis Health.

More information about UC Davis Health, including its Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Pediatric Heart Center, is at health.ucdavis.edu. Information about Heart to Heart is available online.