A group of children in Algeria who underwent complex surgeries as part of a 2016 U.S.-sponsored medical mission have many reasons to celebrate, and can do so with better movement of their limbs. The children did not undergo immediate repair after birth because the surgeries were considered too dangerous. Recognizing the opportunity to help children in need, a U.S. based charity of Algerian-Americans supporting heath care in the Maghreb arranged a teaching mission to work with Algerian neurosurgeons at a regional hospital for children in the city of Medina.
During the course of one week, four neurosurgeons from the U.S., along with team anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nurses and surgical technicians, worked with Algerian surgeons to evaluate nearly 200 children perform more than 40 operations.
Dr. John Ragheb, neurosurgeon at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, was among the team of neurosurgeons who performed the surgeries alongside Dr. Malika Meliani, an Algerian neurosurgeon trained at the national training program in Algiers. “We found many unusual anomalies of the spine and spinal cord, many of which were considered inoperable. Those children are now doing very well; some of the children are walking and toilet trained. The families have sent photos of their progress and it is very touching to see,” said Dr. Ragheb.
Dr. Ragheb also shared “Although, gratifying and heartwarming to help these desperate parents and their children, the crucial and most important part of the mission was to train the Algerian neurosurgeons and their surgical teams to perform these spinal surgeries. The team is now able to offer these surgeries confidently. It is wonderful to provide life-altering care for children in communities where the need is so very great, and tremendously rewarding to train regional professionals so that they can continue helping children in need.”