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Humanitarian Mission Work in Cardiac Surgery: An Interview With Emily Farkas

Thursday, October 13, 2016

“I’ve found a way to craft my career so that I can spend as much time as possible doing humanitarian mission work. It’s been an important focus for me. I feel like it is the way my professional and personal fulfillment can overlap,” Emily Farkas says in an interview with Joel Dunning, which was filmed at the 2016 STS Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Farkas discusses her humanitarian work, including a recent volunteer trip to treat patients in Nepal.

Dr. Farkas and Mr. Dunning also introduce the new CTSNet Surgical Volunteerism Portal, a resource for cardiothoracic surgeons and allied health professionals interested in humanitarian work. The portal will contain educational videos, articles, and personal essays on surgical volunteerism, as well as upcoming surgical volunteer opportunities.


Thank you very much for your hard work and helping the people around the world specially in developing countries. Being a cardiac surgeon from Nepal let me comment briefly about the cardiac surgery in Nepal. Well, we have well-trained cardiovascular & thoracic surgeons more around 20 at present. We are performing complex adult and congenital operations: total arch replacement, CABG, double valve replacement, arterial & atrial switch, Fontan procedure and more. We have been performed more than 10,000 open heart surgeries only in Shahid Gangalal National Heart Center in last 15 years. There is another government hospital - Manmohan Heart Center also performing open heart operations. Operations in heart are performing even in private hospitals in Kathmandu. Government of Nepal is supporting in high-technology operations but still we are lacking catheter-based valve procedures. Ministry of health welcomes the financial aid from donors. Dhulikhel Hospital (under Kathmandu University) where you have been open-heart operations are performing with the help of team from Shahid Gangalal Heart center. Mohan Dev Bhandari, a well-trained cardiac surgeon from UK works in Dhulikhel hospital. This is a quick glimpse of cardiac surgery in Nepal. Now you can think the current situation of cardiac surgery in Nepal. Please take this comment positively. Thank you very much.
Many thanks, Dr. Bhandari, for your kind comments. Indeed, the two centers at which I mentioned cardiac surgery can be done in Nepal are the ones to which you've referred; I have personally visited both and respect and admire the excellent work that you and your colleagues are doing there. It's important to acknowledge what has been accomplished in Kathmandu city. Our goal is to expand those services to areas such as the expansive Kathmandu Valley and remote eastern Nepal for patients who are unable to travel to the city proper because of distance, terrain, or cost. We would like to lessen the burden on your center while assisting your colleagues to work together with you to expand access to cardiovascular care in Nepal.
Dr Farkas, congratulations for your initiative, care and enthusiasm devoted to those who need most. It has been a privilege to share with you these moments of blessings and hard working in or mission!
Well done Dr. Farkas. I was trained at powerful programs in the US, and called to initiate program, such as yours, in my country in the 80s. I identified my experiences with yours: i.e. dealing with patients who are unable to travel to the city proper because of distance, terrain, or cost. Currently we have established National Cardiovascular Center & several private/public hospitals with 100 surgeons performing cardiovascular/pulmonary surgery across the archipelagoes. Please let me know how can I help you. Best regards, Merry Christmas & prosperous New Year.

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