In 2021 we continued our work in Ukraine with the Co-Pilot Project with one formal trip (led by Mariya Soroka and Luke Tomycz) during which we performed several epilepsy and brain tumor surgeries with surgical partners in both Kyiv and Lutsk. A highlight of this trip was an anatomic hemispherectomy – the first to our knowledge ever performed in Ukraine – on a little girl in Lutsk who had a recurrence of her seizures, but again is seizure free and doing very well after this repeat surgery. We also traveled to Uzhgorod where we had a busy day of consultation with the local epilepsy team on various complex epilepsy patients who came from all around the country.
Unfortunately, because of the COVID pandemic, trips by both Dr. Matthew Geck (from Austin, Texas) to perform scoliosis surgery and Dr. James Liu (from Newark , NJ) to perform skull base surgery were canceled this year. But we hope to reschedule both of these trips as restrictions loosen. Furthermore, several of the Ukrainian surgeons who were slated to visit Dr. Forbes in Cincinnati have had their fellowships delayed.
Thanks to connections made by Dr. Vitalii and Yulia Shama and Oleksa Martinouk, we were able to speak with two new surgical partners in Europe, Drs. Schmitz in Germany and Dr. Rocka in Lithuania, both of whom are interested in training Ukrainian residents and setting up an international fellowship/observership in coordination with our team.
Finally, with the help of Maria Borisovska PhD, we were able to locate and purchase an EEG amplifier and this was transported to Dr. Kostiuk, the chief of epilepsy surgery at Romadanov Institute. He has already used this for intraoperative electrocorticography and we hope to assist them in their first extra-operative mapping case. This technology should substantially improve this center’s capabilities to offer surgery to a wider number of patients with drug-resistant, refractory epilepsy.
We hope during the next trip which is planned for April/May of 2022 we will reach and surpass an exciting milestone: the 100th major neurosurgical operation conducted by our team in Ukraine in cooperation with our partner surgeons! We hope to plan an annual dinner and fundraising event in 2022 following this trip.
Learn more about the project here.
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