In early February 2013, Dr. Adamson led a team of 10, including world-renowned surgeons from Johns Hopkins University, The Cleveland Clinic, and Baylor University in San Antonio, Texas to Kigali, Rwanda. More than 30 extremely complex patients with severe facial deformities were consulted and 17 had restorative operations.
These included a 15-year-old boy who had a 25 cm tumour removed from his face, leaving a huge defect. His one eye had been distorted so much it pointed to the sky. Another young boy had played with a hand grenade which had exploded in his mouth, devastating his mid-face and jaw. These, and others like them, required major microvascular reconstruction, taking skin, muscle and bone from the legs, sculpting these tissues to create a new face, and then sewing the tiny blood vessels back together so that the “free flap” would live. These procedures required teams of four surgeons working 10 to 12 hours. Happy to report, all of the patients are doing well.
In addition to operating, the mission surgeons worked side-by-side with Rwandan plastic surgeons, maxillofacial surgeons and anaesthesiologists to teach their techniques. They also met the Minister of Health and other health care leaders to begin planning for future missions.