Posts tagged ‘surgery’

Penn State Hershey’s Dr. Jack Myers is all heart in Ecuador: Years of life-saving surgeries performed on pediatric patients

When Ryan Mathis was a student at Hershey High School, he traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador, with Penn State Hershey pediatric heart surgeon Dr. John “Jack” Myers. There, he saw parents canoe or carry their children across bodies of water to arrive at a hospital where they’d wait with hundreds of others for a chance to receive life-saving heart surgery.

That experience — along with a second trip with Myers while in college — reinforced Mathis’s decision to attend medical school and gave him a new appreciation for medical advances and technology in the United States.

Now a plastic surgery resident at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Mathis hopes to form a career to Blepharoplasty Los Angeles so he can afford to take a month each year to share his skills with developing countries.

“You can’t even comprehend the degree of poverty there — it really puts things in perspective,” he said.

Dr. Jack Myers with a  young patient in Ecuador

Dr. Jack Myers with a young patient in Ecuador.

Myers and Dr. Stephen Cyran, Children’s Heart Group, first traveled to Ecuador 16 years ago, when the country had no surgical equipment or trained personnel to fix congenital heart problems in children.

The hospital they arrived at in the city of Guayaquil looked like a dilapidated warehouse, with corrugated steel hanging from the ceilings, bugs coming out of the water faucets and very limited resources.

“We waited for the team from Hershey to come for 15 days, hoped they would cure the biggest number of children possible while they were here, and that they would return quickly,” said Dr. David Maldonado, pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at the Hospital de Niños Roberto Gilbert E. in Guayaquil.

Each year, without fail, the team of medical professionals and students returned. Myers estimates that nearly 400 people from the Penn State Hershey community have been part of the trips over the years. (more…)

March 6, 2015 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

Kidney recipient gives thanks for anonymous donor and the gift of a second chance

On July 23, Melissa Masse celebrated her 34th birthday in the operating room of Penn State Hershey, watching Dr. Riaz Shah hold up a kidney while the medical team sang “Happy Birthday.”

Earlier that morning, doctors had harvested a kidney from her husband, Chris, and sent it to a major metropolitan area where it would be given to someone as unknown to the Masses as the donor whose organ became a birthday present for Melissa.

Melissa and Chris Masse holding flowers between them where their scars forever bind them as recipient and donor.

Melissa and Chris Masse hold flowers between them to mark the scars that forever bind them as recipient and donor in a chain that gave Melissa and three others a second chance at life with a healthy kidney.

The surgeries were just two links in a complex transplant chain that allowed four people to receive healthy kidneys despite not having compatible live donors. Known as a “kidney swap,” Penn State Hershey offers the program as an alternative to dialysis and years of waiting for a deceased donor organ.

Melissa had been diagnosed with diabetes at age 11, but it wasn’t until stomach trouble and vomiting sent her to an emergency department in August 2012 and doctors noted her poor kidney function that she was sent to a specialist. By the end of the year, the South Williamsport woman was added to the list of people waiting for a healthy kidney.

Because the average person waits more than six years for a kidney, and because the mortality rate for those on dialysis is 50 percent after five years, Melissa’s husband offered to be a live donor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a match. Nor was her boss. Or her best friend.

“I was devastated,” Chris said. He knew his wife was hoping for a live donor so there would be less chance her body would reject the new kidney. So he told transplant coordinator Vicky Reilly that he would donate his kidney to someone he had never met so that his wife could receive a healthy kidney from someone she had never met. (more…)

November 26, 2013 at 8:54 am 2 comments

Founding leader and advocate for Penn State Hershey passes

Dr. John A. Waldhausen and wifeJohn A. Waldhausen, M.D., professor emeritus, College of Medicine, and founding chair of surgery, the Medical Center, died in mid-May after a remarkable and distinguished career that helped chart the course for Penn State Hershey.

Arriving at Hershey in 1969, Waldhausen provided some of the earliest leadership to the Medical Center when it was still in its infancy. But coming to Penn State was a surprising decision for someone who was already a rising star at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), an established and well-known medical center. Despite being on the ground floor of launching an independent cardiac service at CHOP under the supervision of C. Everett Koop, M.D., Waldhausen still jumped at the opportunity to build his own department at Hershey. In just a few years, he was named interim dean and provost, but when he was offered the title of permanent dean, Waldhausen wrote in his memoir Finding Home in a World at War that he “chose not to, for I wanted to continue to build the department and felt committed to those I had recruited to Hershey. To achieve something, I felt I had to stick to one job.”

Waldhausen was already a nationally respected cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon and, now at Hershey, he quickly became known for his work in the lab. Soon after recruiting William Pierce, M.D., the two embarked on what would become Penn State’s Artificial Heart Program. His pioneering work in the 1980s led to an innovative therapy for coarctation of the aorta, a congenital heart defect that had few successful treatment options. In the following decades, Waldhausen’s protocol became universally-accepted and has reduced the infant mortality rate in patients born with this defect from 60 percent to 3 percent. (more…)

August 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm 1 comment

The journey of an IVC filter—from life-saving to life-altering

The medical journey that would lead Kaysee Kauer from Rapid City, South Dakota, to Hershey, Pennsylvania, began in the early morning hours of January 27, 2011.

“I woke up feeling like my whole right side was a charley horse,” the 38-year-old says. She stood up to alleviate what she thought was a cramp. But within seconds, the pain quickly escalated and it became clear she was dealing with something much worse. “I thought I was having a heart attack,” she says.

Kaysee Kauer and her son Dean.

Kaysee Kauer and her son Dean.

Kauer beckoned to her 17-year-old daughter, Hailey, who called 911. Shortly after arriving at a South Dakota hospital, doctors told Kauer she had experienced a potentially fatal condition known as a pulmonary embolism: a “massive” blood clot had broken apart in her leg and migrated to her lungs.

In case more clots were still in her leg, doctors implanted an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter in Kaysee. The small umbrella-like filter has metal prongs that project outward to prevent clots from moving to the lungs by way of the IVC – the blood vessel that returns blood to the heart from the lower body.

About a month later, physicians in South Dakota decided it was time to remove the filter. But when they attempted to retrieve it, they discovered a complication: a small hook at one end of the filter had become lodged in the blood vessel wall. (more…)

December 20, 2011 at 9:29 am 4 comments


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