the torch Winter 2017, Issue 4 | Page 12

Cardiac team “ saving hearts ” in home country of Peru

Serving others plays a large role in the day-to-day work at Baylor Scott & White Health , but some members of the team go above and beyond to embody the true meaning of serving others in need — even when it takes them to another continent .
Lima , Peru , is home to one of the oldest hospitals in the region . As a not-for-profit organization , Dos de Mayo National Hospital is one of the few tertiary and quaternary care hospitals in the country that serves the estimated 18 million uninsured Peruvians .
Each year , Dos de Mayo National Hospital performs about 700 heart procedures . However , with the rising costs of medical care , many lowincome patients in the impoverished region are unable to afford the care they so desperately need .
But , a Dallas-based cardiac surgeon is working to change that , one heart at a time .
Back to his roots
On a normal day , you ’ ll find Aldo Rafael , M . D ., scrubbing in for duty , ready to perform life-changing surgical heart procedures in Dallas , Texas . Dr . Rafael is a cardiac surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor
University Medical Center at Dallas . Born and raised in Jauja-Junin , Peru , about six hours outside of Lima , he served his surgical residency at Dos de Mayo National Hospital , where he was the first graduate of the hospital ’ s cardiac surgery program .
During his time in residency , he formed a unique bond with Efrain Montesinos , M . D . It was Dr . Montesinos , a staff surgeon on the medical staff at Cleveland Clinic , who taught Dr . Rafael that philanthropy was an important trademark for a quality surgeon .
Under his guidance , Dr . Rafael realized that his hands could help heal his people .
Dr . Rafael began his surgical career at Cleveland Clinic , where he had the opportunity to go on his first mission trip and revisit his Peruvian training grounds in 2012 . When Dr . Rafael joined Baylor Scott & White Health in 2013 , he continued his mission trips to Peru with the support of his new team and the Peruvian American Medical Society .
“ Saving Hearts ”
With the poverty rate higher than 50 percent in some areas , Peruvians are willing to travel more than 24 hours and wait for several months to have the free-of-charge heart surgeries provided by Dr . Rafael and his team .
This medical mission , called “ Salvando Corazones ,” or “ Saving Hearts ,” is a coordination between
12 physicians on the medical staff and employees at Baylor Dallas .
The group is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of cardiac surgeons , cardiac anesthesiologists , advanced practice providers , nurses and perfusionists who provide quality care for indigenous and underserved people from all over Peru .
“ Salvando Corazones consists of health care professionals from different specialties who are in search of one goal , which is to help others ,” said Leticia Ramirez , an acute care nurse practitioner at Baylor Dallas . “ I look forward to being part of many more mission trips because I know we can change lives , one surgery at a time .”
Since 2014 , the team has operated on 39 patients with serious heart conditions . Last year , they performed 15 open heart surgeries in five days . But for them , it ’ s about more than just surgery .
“ There is no greater satisfaction as a physician assistant than to help the underserved and the underprivileged ,” said Mitesh Patel , a physician assistant on staff at Baylor Dallas .
Bringing Innovation to Peru
Besides bringing critical heart surgeries to people in need , Dr . Rafael and his medical team are also on the forefront of surgical innovation in Peru . In 2013 , they introduced the first minimally invasive valve surgery