Category Archives: Urology

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Part Three | Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last month on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. Read Part One and Part Two of this blog series.

by Larry Sirls, M.D., Beaumont urologist

Several times during our trip we have lost power. We know this is the rainy season, but over the last many years we have had very few storms, occasional rains, but no big, classic storms. This year, we have had big storms every day. Huge black fronts cover half of the sky with lightning sprinkled in, coming toward us from the horizon. It’s beautiful, really. However, when the storm hits it’s raining sideways, the wind howls and there is a good chance we lose power. We lost power at least once every day, most days several times, sometimes for an hour or more.

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Losing power when you are operating ranges from bad to very, very bad. If we are doing surgery with a scope that needs a light source and electrocautery, the surgery just stops right there because you can no longer see, the operating field is black. If you are doing an open surgery, you can use a battery-powered headlight and can often continue on.

We are in the southern hemisphere, it is our winter at home and I ask a local doctor if this is considered their summer.  She says, “What is summer? I do not understand. We only have rain and no rain.” Well, we are in the rain, and it is hot. It is not steamy jungle hot (that you might think of as summertime Africa near the equator) because our location is on an elevated plateau, about 3,500 feet above sea level.  Yet it is hot enough that when we have our surgical gowns on we sweat a lot. A lot.

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Part Two | Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last month on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. Read Part One of this blog series.

by Larry Sirls, M.D., Beaumont urologist

urology_missionDuring our trip, we evaluated approximately 50 patients and did surgery on 30. The unique thing about going to Africa is not knowing what kind of problems we will see. This year we did fewer surgeries, but the cases were more complex as patients traveled from distant areas of Zambia. We were faced with many interesting cases and were able to repair many of these complex issues and markedly improved their quality of life.

We brought more than $10,000 in donated supplies allowing us to do bipolar transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) in approximately 15 men who otherwise had to live with a chronic catheter (one was 99 years old!). We were the only place in the entire country who could provide this procedure. It was great seeing their joy when we were able to remove their catheter. Some of the prostates were so enlarged we needed to do open surgery to remove the gland.  These were very challenging, but all went well.

The residents on the trip had an incredible experience evaluating and operating on these patients. Our main frustration is that we were not able to get our medical supplies (500 pounds) from customs in Lusaka. It was a paperwork nightmare that will eventually get sorted out and the desperately needed supplies will arrive at the hospital to enhance the care of the patients.

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Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last week on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. 

by Kenneth Peters, M.D., Chief, Urology, Beaumont, Royal Oak

Surgical mission

Beaumont staff members spent the day packing medical supplies to use on the medical mission trip to Zambia.

After flying nearly 8,000 miles, we have safely arrived in Lusaka, Zambia. While our team is relatively small, there is a huge community that is helping to support our work. Funding for the trip is provided by the Michael Ingber Africa Fund and Growing Hearts of Africa, a foundation created by the families of Michael Barer, M.D. and Sol Barer, M.D.  In addition, we have had many grateful patients and friends donate to our mission work.

The excitement for the trip has been growing for the past several weeks as we gathered and packed supplies that the African hospitals usually lack. This year, we have collected over 500 pounds of medical supplies, packed in 11 pieces of luggage. Unfortunately, it is all being held up in customs in Lusaka, Zambia. Hopefully, we will get our supplies tomorrow.

Today, we met with Dr. John Kachimba. In 2004, Dr. Kachimba spent a year with the urology fellowship program at Beaumont, an educational experience that was funded by the Ministrelli Program for Urology Research and Education (MPURE). Dr. Kachimba, who was born and raised in Africa, helps to organize the surgical trip, which provides care to men, women and children with urologic conditions. We will be traveling to Monze, Zambia on Tuesday to do the majority of our patient evaluations and surgeries.

Follow the Beaumont Blog for additional posts from Dr. Peters during this mission trip.

Read Part Two of this blog series.

Read Part Three of this blog series.

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