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Houston Methodist Doctors Return to Ukraine

By Callie Rainosek, MS

2024 mission team stats
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hours of surgery
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total number of patients
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deployed 8 patient-specific implants
Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, people of all ages have suffered from life-altering head and neck injuries that require reconstructive surgery. These complex injuries can be difficult to treat and manage, especially as the country’s hospitals continue to be overwhelmed. As part of a long-time partnership with Canadian-based philanthropic organization, Face the Future, a team of Houston Methodist physicians recently completed their second trip to Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine to continue treating patients and training medical personnel in trauma care.
Anthony Brissett, MD, FACS
Joshua Kain, MD, FACS
Burke T. Bradley, MD
Heather Leard
Terry D. Taylor, DDS
Returning team members included Anthony Brissett, MD, FACS, Vice Chair and Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Houston Methodist Academic Institute and Division Chief of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Houston Methodist ENT Specialists, otolaryngology – head and neck surgeon Joshua J. Kain, MD, FACS, anesthesiologist Burke T. Bradley, MD, and surgical technician Heather Leard. New team members included oral and maxillofacial surgeon Terry D. Taylor, DDS. This year, the team performed 97 hours of surgery on 32 patients and deployed eight patient-specific implants.
“Many of these injuries require multi-step reconstructions. There were several patients that I treated last year and was able to continue my work this year,” Dr. Brissett said. “These patients may have been injured from mine blasts, gunshots, or by other means, causing jaw and nose loss.” The care the patients received was of no-charge, thanks to Face the Future and other strategic partnerships. In addition to treating new and returning patients, the team also hosted various educational opportunities for Ukrainian medical personnel to improve their skills in treating and managing complex head and neck injuries. These educational opportunities included a two-day medical symposium attended by more than 400 participants and live streamed throughout the country.
Many of these injuries require multi-step reconstructions. There were several patients that I treated last year and was able to continue my work this year.
Anthony Brissett, MD, FACS
To pull off these accomplishments, a great deal of prep work was essential. “We had 11 Zoom meetings from January until we deployed on April 18,” Dr. Brissett noted. “These Zoom meetings varied anywhere between two to four hours each and involved carefully planning customized implants and devices for patients requiring surgery.” The team expressed pride in channeling Houston Methodist’s ICARE values to help those affected by the war. As Dr. Brissett describes it, “We're all given a gift, and I freely share it with whomever I can, and that is the gift of service.” Visit here to learn more about the Houston Methodist 2023 Ukraine trip.