Our team, consisting of a reconstructive surgeon and two trauma surgeons, was in Armenia from February 2nd to February 9th, 2021.
The goal of the mission was to deliver critical supplies and surgical assistance for late complications of open fractures, particularly mal-unions and non-unions (when bones don’t heal right) and cases of osteomyelitis (infections of bone).
We also saw patients who have internal amputations (where the bone and joints are gone but patient still has muscles vessels and nerves), and amputees who had complex amputations that may not be amenable to standard socket prosthetics. These patients were pre-selected for surgical intervention and will now start the challenging process of rehabilitation with our therapists and physicians to prepare for surgery this summer. The goal of this rigorous process is to strengthen the patients both physically and mentally, and teach them to walk on their prostheses. Over the following months, our patients face the daunting task of making important decisions. We have spent and will continue to spend a great deal of time counseling them about new surgical possibilities.
During our trip, we operated at Wigmore clinic, SlavMed, Nairi and Kanaker Zeitun hospital. We also provided and coordinated logistical help for a difficult osteomyelitis case at Erebuni Hospital. Varazdat’s case was discussed with an international group of osseointegration surgeons and he had a successful surgery based on this cooperative plan. We saw a bevy of patients with complex amputations at InterOrtho prosthetic laboratory. I was also invited by Dr. Lusine Poghosyan, to examine surgical patients to determine whether they would be good candidates for limb preservation and osseointegration surgery.
Much work remains, but the promising news is that modern surgical approaches are able to deliver better results. These approaches are able to reconstruct the missing parts from inside or connect the remaining bone to metal implants through special surgically-implanted devices to improve function.
We are thrilled to report that Implantcast, the leading world manufacturer of limb preservation implants, and Integrum, the leading osseointegration manufacturer, have given generous grants to Trek2Share and Eternal Nation to bring these vital technologies to Armenia to help our wounded. In addition, Eternal Nation has committed to fund the additional surgeries as the need arises.
Over the course of this trip, we realized the urgent need to collaborate with a broad spectrum of groups and specialists on acute management of open fractures. Most of the blast injuries from the recent war resulted in open, high energy fractures. With help from IN REALM Initiative, VIVA foundation and the Armenian Ministry of Health we organized a weekend conference on open fractures. It was held at the National Institute of Health and was very well attended, with 35 dedicated surgeons traveling from all over the country to attend. More surgeries are planned for July and we are currently enrolling anyone who is interested in being assessed.
We remain committed to strengthening our collaboration with anyone who shares our staunch commitment to improving the health and well-being of our countrymen. The success of this mission was a testimony to the importance of forging lasting partnerships both within Armenia and among the entire diaspora.