Help for little Ayodh — Support now

In summer 2019 Swiss Surgery got to know Liyanage Poorna Chalanga De Silva in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. He explained to us his desperate situation:

His son Ayodh is only three years old and suffering from Leukemia.
The chemotherapy he requires is too expensive for his family. Their monthly income was only 180 Swiss francs and all of their savings have been spent on Ayodh’s treatment.
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Swiss Spine Foundation — our vision & our mission

Vision & Mission

The goal of this foundation is the promotion and education of young physicians in the area of spinal diseases. This involves the treatment of complex deformities in children, as well as the promotion of research in the field of spinal surgery. Our aim is to make competent treatment available in countries like Myanmar, who are less developed. For this reason, a fellowship-programm was created, giving young physicians the chance to gather valuable experience. A team of swiss doctors will visit regularly to support the local doctors in treating patients as well as educating aspiring physicians. 

With this the Swiss Spine Foundation, I intend to pass on my knowledge to young surgeons and thus to help people with back problems — above all children — in less developed regions. 

EurAsia Heart – A Swiss Medical Foundation

Cardiovascular diseases are still the main cause of death in developing and emerging countries, both in adults and children. In some countries, deaths due to untreated heart disease or heart defects in children under the age of 5 exceed those due to AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

For this reason, our foundation, EurAsia Heart Foundation, has established a medical network in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, which focuses on cardiovascular diseases in children, adolescents and adults.

Human First — The dramatic life of little Nathaly

At first glance, five year old Nathaly from Georgia is a normal girl: she loves dolls and is bursting with energy. When she laughs, her blue eyes sparkle. Yet, Nathaly has a moving story to tell.

It all started in the october of 2018. Nathaly complained regularly about abdominal pains, which lead her parents to palpate her stomach. What they found startled them: they were sure, they had found a tumor in the upper right stomach area. They went to Tiflis promptly to have a thourough exam. The diagnose left the family devastated: Nathaly had a live-threatening tumor of the kidney, a so-called Wilms-Tumor. The doctors in Tiflis, faced with a major challenge, called for help from abroad, which came in February of 2019 from Switzerland.

“The quality of the operation is crucial”

Under the auspices of the EurAsia Heart Foundation, professors Jan Schmidt and Martin Spahn flew to Tiflis to perform the operation. «As a father of four children, there was no question about what to do. Since I have close ties to Tiflis and the doctors there, they asked me to help out in Nathaly’s case», says Prof. Schmidt. Urologist Prof. Spahn agreed to share his knowledge and operational skills as well: «I have treated plenty of children with Wilms-Tumors. I know that the quality of the operation is crucial.»

Traumatising situation

Small Nathaly already had gone through chemotherapy. She had lost her brown locks and was very weak. Prof. Spahn remembers: «Nathaly was traumatised by the treatment and the constant hospitalisation. Such a process is hard for everybody. Fortunately, children seem to show a natural strength in those situations.» Of course, Nathaly’s sickness also took a tall on her parents. The language barrier was an additional problem: «Every parent wishes for their child to be healthy. As doctors, we take this responsibility», says Prof. Schmidt.

13-centimetre tumor

The next day, 10 am on a sunday, the time had come. Nathaly had her tumor (which was 13 centimetres in size) removed in a highly demanding, two-hour operation. The doctors were happy with the result: «The operation went extraordinarily smoothly. although there always is a certain risk.»
In an operation like that, it is important no to rip the tumor capsule, as this can result in a spread of tumor cells. «This would have meant a serious deterioration of her condition», Prof. Schmidt explains. Since this had been avoided, the prognosis for Nathaly looked very good. Only twelve tays after the operation, Nathaly is posing pertly for the camera, her charm fully restored. Another week later, she leaves for home, doing what she likes best: playing with her dolls.

Team effort

Right after the operation, both doctors flew back to Zurich. What does one take aways from such an experience? Prof. Spahn tells us: «Everyone, who loves children or is a father, can imagine the happiness one takes away from helping her.»  Both professors did the operation for free, the EurAsia Heart Foundation co-financed the additional cost of the treatment. The clinic of Tiflis did its best to keep the cost low. According to Prof. Schmidt, «an operation like this is hardly fundable in Georgia, but fortunately, this team effort made it possible».

The next visit to check up on Nathaly is planned already.


Honorary Doctorate for Prof. Jan Schmidt

Between 1998 and 2008, 8 young doctors from Klausenburg, Romania were trained at the University Hospital of Heidelberg. This scientific and clinical scholarship resulted in numerous publications.

For this service, Prof. Jan Schmidt received an honorary doctorate in the year 2003.



Scientific and clinical transfer to Lithuania

Between 2000 and 2008, Lithuania sent 6 young doctors to be educated both scientifically and clinically. This resulted in joint publications.

In the wake of the DaVinci programme of the European Union, several teams from Vilnius, Lithuania were trained in liver transplants. Among them were, hepatologists, surgeons, anaesthetists, pathologists, radiologists and nurses.


Transplants in children and adolescents in Georgia

Since 2003, several trips were made to Tiflis, Georgia to perform living kidney transplants in children and adolescents. Although in Georgia, some kidney transplants are performed, they only concern adults. To this day, 10 transplants have been performed successfully.

For these services, the University of Tiflis gave an honorary doctorate to Prof. Jan Schmidt in 2006.

Liver and pancreas surgery and living liver transplants in Egypt

Hepatitis C is a big problem in Egypt. 12 million egyptians are infected. This caused an alarming number of liver cirrhosis. A liver transplant is usually the patients’ only chance this case.

Since 2008, Prof. Schmidt is performing liver transplants at the National Liver Institute in Menofiya (close to Cairo) for free. His own repertoire was improved by the project. An effective technique of cutting through damaged liver tissue could be transferred to Germany and now Switzerland.

The Al Araby Hospital will open its doors shortly in the Nile Delta. Prof. Schmidt has visited the clinic with egyptian partners. In the future, complex oncological cases will be treated here with the help of the Hirslanden hospitals in Zurich.


Complex liver and pancreas surgery in Cairo, Egypt

An institute founded by German doctor Theodor Bilharz lies in Gizeh, close to the Pyramids, and treats patients without means in liver or other gastroenterological diseases. It was established for research on the spread of so-called Bilharziosis in the Nile Delta. Since 2011, Prof. Schmidt performs surgery on liver and pancreas, which cannot (yet) be done by the doctors there, for free. In the course of this commitment, the egyptian surgeons are trained in complex surgery.

At the 2nd International Congress for hepatobilio-pancreatic and transplant surgery in Cairo in 2014, Prof. Schmidt informed the participants about new methods of treatment of metastases in the liver.

First living kidney transplant in the Kosovo

In 2007, a team in Pristina led by Prof. Schmidt performed the first ever living kidney transplant in the history of the Kosovo, from a mother to her 16-year-old daughter. Both donor as well as receiver were informed about the operation in Germany. Following the corresponding preparations, the operation was performed successfully.

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