Dr pippi briefing the patient family during surgery by his team

Sidra Collaboration Saves Two Young Lives

Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra) has announced the successful completion of two highly complex urological surgeries by Dr. Joao Luiz Pippi Salle – considered one of the few experts in the world specialized in bladder exstrophy surgery.

The life-altering surgeries were conducted on a 19-month old from Central Asia and a 17-month old from Ghana. Both patients and their families were flown to Qatar thanks to the combined efforts of Qatar Foundation (QF), the Association for Bladder Exstrophy Community (A-BE-C), Sidra, and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

Commenting on the children’s progress, Dr. Salle said: “We are pleased to report that the first phase of the children’s surgeries has been successful and that they are now out of intensive care. The children and their families have been very brave given the stress and endurance in the lead up to the surgeries and post recovery process. One of the patients also required orthopedic reconstruction of the pelvic bones. The children are still under observation and will be in the recovery unit for the next several weeks; this is where we will monitor their bladder function and ensure that they are healing. Their care however will be ongoing and could potentially involve more surgeries and procedures in the future.”

Bladder exstrophy is a rare urological disease that affects 1 in 50,000 babies. Depending on the type of exstrophy, patients can be born with complex urological structures including a malformation of the bladder and improperly formed pelvic bones. Repair of the exstrophied bladder requires surgical reconstruction which can be highly complex. A child with exstrophy may undergo multiple surgical procedures, associated lengthy hospitalisations and many repeated outpatient visits and treatments.

The complex surgeries were conducted at Hamad Hospital by a medical team comprising Sidra and HMC pediatric surgeons and anesthesiologists. Both children’s surgeries took close to eight hours. The urological team headed by Dr. Salle included HMC doctors Abdelrrhaman El Khadi, Sami Cherigui and Tariq Abbas. For the child requiring pelvic bone surgery, this was performed by Sidra’s division chief of pediatric orthopedics, Dr. Jason Howard. The second child’s surgery involved a general pediatric surgical team led by HMC’s Dr. Mansour Ali.

Sidra Chief Executive Officer, Peter Morris said, “We are immensely proud of the team at Sidra and the humanitarian role we have been able to play in changing the lives of these two wonderful and brave children. Our joint medical collaboration with HMC is also testament to the network of care that continues to advance in Qatar with the help of Qatar Foundation. HMC has been integral in providing access to their own teams and exceptional facilities including operating and intensive care units for the patients. The children are being well looked after by both teams and we hope for their quick recoveries so they can go on to lead fulfilled lives with their families.”

According to the A-BE-C, a treatable condition like bladder exstrophy can potentially become critical, particularly for children who do not have access to proper medical care. Many of these children can spend years in agonizing pain and shunned by family and society. Pamela Block, Executive Director of A-BE-C and a mother of a child who had bladder exstrophy, arranged for the children and families to come to Qatar and provided support and hope to the families during the surgeries at Hamad Hospital.

“The A-BE-C is dedicated to offering the parents of children with bladder exstrophy access to information, resources and ultimately surgery for their children. We are immensely grateful to Qatar Foundation, Sidra and HMC for changing the lives of the two young patients. They have been given renewed hope for a better life – something which both families didn’t think was possible,” said Ms. Block.

“I would also like to personally thank Ms. Mchail C. Chebab from HMC who helped the families with their paper work and continues to provide ongoing support to them during their stay. After seeing the world-class team and facilities in Qatar, I am optimistic it will set a precedence for Sidra to become a global referral center for specialized pediatric urological treatment. The amount of time, cost and stress it will save for families who live in close proximity to Qatar including countries in Africa, Asia and Europe will be immense,” continued Ms. Block.

After the children recover from the first stage of their surgeries, they will return to their home countries where they will be monitored by local doctors in collaboration with the A-BE-C. They will return to Qatar for additional procedures related to enabling urinary continence and receiving psycho-social support.

“We hope that surgeons like Dr. Salle, and the broader team at Sidra, will inspire future healthcare and allied health professionals as well as researchers and scientists to consider advancing their education, skills and expertise in specialized medical fields. Medical education plays a key role at Sidra. We are taking active steps to train and develop the next generation of Qatari medical and research students and residents. We are committed to playing our role in shaping their careers and to help create a network of global medical innovators and thought leaders coming out of Qatar,” concluded Mr. Morris.

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