Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission – Day 5


Extra early breakfast this morning for the team as surgery was scheduled to begin at 7:30. But that didn’t stop Dr. Lieberman from his early morning running routine, where he was unexpectedly joined by a friendly and fast local, a 17 year old Ugandan boy named Joshua (which also happens to be the name of Dr. Lieberman’s only son… although that Joshua doesn’t run much).


A brisk cool morning welcomed the team as they arrived at the hospital to begin prepping the patient for surgery. This morning the team operated on an 11 year old girl, Jallor, who suffers from severe progressive idiopathic scoliosis (“idiopathic” being code for “doctors don’t know how it got there”).



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She was a bit intimidated by the overwhelming machinery and wires in the OR, but she was greeted kindly by the team and settled into place for the anesthesiologists to start their job.

Meanwhile Drs. Hisey and Silverstein popped over to the ICU and surgical ward to follow up with patients from days 1 and 2. Everyone was doing well, recovering faster than even the docs had anticipated. On the way back they were inundated with requests from other Ugandans to review X-rays, including individuals who have travelled great distances in hopes of seeing the American Doctors. The unfortunate reality is that the team does not have enough time or resources to treat everyone. Drs. Hisey and Silverstein did their best to offer what medical advice and opinions they could before being pulled back into OR to assist on young Jallor’s surgery. Dr. Hisey’s son Matt was also on hand to help the surgeons out!


The surgery was well underway when there was an emergency in the room… a music emergency. Dr. Lieberman’s iPhone was stuck on a loop playing the same 3 Beatles songs over and over… Could have been worse, at least it wasn’t Yoko Ono tunes. A few of the cleaning nurses in the back commented on how much they enjoyed the songs and said they’d never heard of the Beatles before!

The surgery went well, but was tougher than anticipated, as every time Dr. Lieberman attempted to straighten the spine there was a loss of signal from the neural monitor. The team couldn’t see what was going on in the patients brain, but we all knew what was going on in Dr. Lieberman’s brain “crap crap crap…” But naturally, Dr. Lieberman kept his cool, and after calmly proceeding through corrective maneuvers, neural monitoring signals returned to baseline and the team was able to get back to the back. The case lasted roughly 5 hours, and after wrapping Dr. Lieberman hit up the break room for a well deserved hot tea (Houji-Cha Japanese black tea, no milk, no sugar, extra hot. In case you were wondering).


Outside the surgery ward, Dr. Lieberman followed up with patients and families from previous days clinics who returned with new x-rays and CT scans. One of the reviews hit the team particularly hard, a very kind man, Edward, who actually works at the hotel where we were staying, came to have Dr. Lieberman review some x-rays. It was brought to the attention of the doctor as well as the patient that the man’s left hip had almost completely deteriorated, and would soon be followed by the right one. Edward was understandably devastated as he worried about growing medical bills amongst his impending inability to continue working. Luckily Dr. Lieberman will be getting in touch with the next team rotating into Uganda, and hopefully plan accordingly for them to bring all the necessary parts, tools and instruments to help Edward get back on his feet with a surgery free of charge! Hip hip hooray!

Prep began for the second case of the day, Dr. Hisey’s surgery for an incorrectly healed spine fracture resulting from a Boda Boda accident 6 month prior. The patient, a very nice 29 year old female, was experiencing significant back pain and discomfort.


The case went on without a hitch. It must have helped that Mike had his Rambo head gear on! This case went into the evening and was the last OR case in the operative theaters. Following this long day, the team retreated back to base for dinner and bed.

After dinner Dr. Lieberman’s son presented the team with dessert, a large air bubble chocolate bar! Unfortunately Josh had left the chocolate bar in the bus during the day, and needless to say, it melted. However a good half hour in the fridge and our chocolate resolidified into a nice bubble-less sheet of chocolate… who wants dessert!?

To support the Uganda Spine Surgery Mission visit: http://www.ugandaspinesurgerymission.com

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