Mission to Mongolia
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Montefiore Departments of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology Join Surgical and Teaching Mission to Mongolia

Montefiore neurosurgeons and anesthesiologists recently joined an international team of ophthalmologists, oculo-plastics specialists, ENT surgeons, transplant surgeons, and anesthesiologists from the Unites States, France, Israel and India for a charitable mission trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The participation of Reza Yassari, MD, Apolonia Abramowicz, MD and Neil Haranhalli, MD in the 10-day surgical and teaching mission was yet another testament to Montefiore’s historical focus on providing quality healthcare to the underserved population, including those overseas. 

The charitable mission—organized by the Virtue Foundation—allowed physicians to provide care for patients in need of complex surgical treatments, while also assessing and meeting the educational, clinical and institutional needs of surgical care in Mongolia.

The mission consisted of multiple levels of care and education. Visiting physicians were given the opportunity to:

  • Partner with local neurologists. The team worked with patients, some of who traveled days to the central city of Ulaanbaatar for care, in a dedicated outpatient clinic. The arrangement provided the optimal environment for informal teaching and an opportunity for local doctors to learn how to improve and advance the care of their patients, some who presented with conditions ranging from Dandy-Walker syndrome to orbital gliomas to severe lumbar spondylolisthesis.

  • Perform complex neurosurgical procedures with a multidisciplinary approach.  Among the surgeries performed were severe congenital torticollis, a recurrent thoracolumbar chondroma, and a cervical corpectomy for progressive plasmacytoma.

  •  Help a three-year-old boy born with a congenital skull base defect. The child developed a significantly deforming frontonasal encephalocele. His father was unable to pay for the necessary surgery and the local team of neurosurgeons lacked the resources, equipment and surgical experience to perform complicated procedures.  Treatment was the mission team’s top priority. Charitable donations from over 10 different corporate and institutional sponsors allowed the team to secure the necessary equipment and resources needed to perform the surgery. On the third day of the mission, Montefiore neurosurgeons and anesthesiologists joined a team composed of oculo-plastics and ENT surgeons to complete frontonasal encephalocele repairs and correct the child’s deformities. The surgery took well over 20 hours. 

  • Demonstrate the most recent advances in stroke care and highlight current treatment modalities. At the end of the week, Drs. Abramowicz and Yassari spoke at the National Mongolia Cerebrovascular Conference.  Aimed at understanding and advancing the treatment of cerebrovascular disease across the country, the conference showcased current treatment modalities and options for stroke, intracranial aneurysms and other cerebrovascular abnormalities.  This forum served as a great opportunity for Dr. Yassari and Dr. Abramowicz to not only fous on medical advances, but also to initiate an international relationship with the hopes to further collaborative efforts in research and clinic

The Virtue Foundation is a not-for profit organization focused on increasing awareness, inspire action and render assistance through healthcare, education and empowerment initiatives. Montefiore’s involvement in this Surgical and Teaching Mission to Mongolia is yet another testament to its never-ending mission to providing needed and quality care to the underserved population, including those overseas.  This was only the second year that Montefiore’s Departments of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology have been involved in the trip, but through the connections and efforts fostered on this latest mission, it is sure to be only the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.
--Neil Haranhalli (PGY-3 Neurological Surgery)