India Hospital Welcomes First Medical Volunteer Since Pandemic

Published November 15, 2022

Dr. Baird with GKNM Hospital Team in September 2022
Dr. Baird with GKNM Hospital team during a medical training visit in September 2022.

It’s hard to believe that the last in person training visit for the pediatric cardiac care team at Children’s HeartLink partner hospital G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital (GKNM) was in January 2020.

Children’s HeartLink and our medical volunteers and partner hospitals have been using phone calls, virtual meetings, texting, WhatsApp, Zoom and more to continue to learn and grow to continue to serve children with congenital heart disease.

That changed in September 2022 when GKNM Hospital welcomed their first Children’s HeartLink medical volunteer since the pandemic. Dr. Chris Baird, congenital heart surgeon with Boston Children’s Hospital, visited with the Coimbatore, India team to offer hands-on training, conduct a dry lab on the Ozaki method and participate in GKMN Hospital’s annual cardiac surgical conference (LiveSURGE).

Boy at GKNM underwent heart surgery
A little boy, age 1, underwent heart surgery at GKNM Hospital for his complex congenital heart disease.
Hands-on Support for Complex Congenital Heart Disease Cases

Dr. Baird joined pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Vijay and the team at GKNM Hospital, in planning, preparing and operating on complex cases of congenital heart disease (CHD). Dr Baird assisted the GKNM team with four complex congenital heart surgeries. The complex surgeries were: a one-year-old little boy who had been diagnosed with left pulmonary artery sling who underwent reimplantation of LPA, a three-year-old boy who underwent Double Switch Operation and VSD closure, a six-year-old girl who had anatomical correction for post operative pulmonary vein stenosis and a six-year-old boy who had a Biventricular repair for complex cyanotic heart disease. Dr. Baird also performed four aortic valve surgeries during the surgical workshop including two Ozaki procedures, a Bicuspidization of Aortic valve and a repair of Aortic root abscess.

In 2021, GKNM Hospital performed 340 heart surgeries, around 600 interventional catheterizations procedures and served 2,564 children.

Dr. Baird with GKNM Hospital Team in September 2022
Dr. Vijay with GKNM and Dr. Baird with Boston Children’s operate on a 1-year-old diagnosed with LPS sling with mild tracheal stenosis. Picture Courtesy: Dr. P. Chandrasekhar.
Hands-on Pediatric Cardiac Care Training to Improve Skills and Serve More Lives
Dr. Baird's Dry Ozaki Lab Workshop
Dr. Baird hosts a dry Ozaki lab workshop for GKNM.

The training visit also included an Ozaki workshop led by Dr. Baird. During the dry lab, 25 surgeons learned about the Ozaki Surgery Technique. Dr. Vijay and Dr. Baird successfully performed the Ozaki surgery in 2019 on Mythili, The Girl Who Waited 12 Years for Her Heart to Be Repaired.

Annual Cardiac Surgical Conference in India

Dr. Chris Baird was one of the invited faculty for GKNM Hospital’s annual workshop, liveSURGE Ventricular Inflow and Outflow 2022. More than 250 surgeons attended the conference which was the first in person conference in India since a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“GKNM Hospital hosts one of the most highly regarded cardiac surgical conferences in the country,” said Veeralakshmi Rajasekhar, Children’s HeartLink in-country consultant. Nearly 10 live demonstrations provided adult and pediatric heart surgeons with an opportunity to expand their knowledge, understanding and techniques.

Dr. Patralekha Das at GKNM Conference 2022
Dr. Patralekha Das, from RTIICS in Kolkata, attends GKNM Hospital’s 2022 liveSURGE Ventricular Inflow and Outflow.

Many surgeons from Children’s HeartLink partner hospitals in India benefited from attending including Dr. Patralekha Das with the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) in Kolkata, India. She said, “It is probably one of the best live surgery workshops I have attended.”

While Dr. Balaji with Amrita Hospitals in Kochi, India found the workshop to be better than good. “’Good experience’ is an understatement. There was a lot of gains for our team from this conference. It was very well done with all the world authorities in one place. We’ve benefited immensely from it. Thank you.”

Dr. Baird did all this in a 3-day visit to Coimbatore, India. While this was the first post-pandemic trip training opportunity it won’t be the last. Children’s HeartLink, our medical volunteers and partner hospitals will continue to save lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. The newly created blended learning model is creating opportunities for medical volunteers and partner hospitals.

About G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital (GKNM)
As the first private hospital in Coimbatore, India, GKNM Hospital, has long been known as a top heart center in the western state of Tamil Nadu. In 2017, GKNMH became a Children’s HeartLink partner hospital. In 2021, GKNM 340 heart surgeries and around 600 interventional catheterizations in children with congenital heart disease.
About Children’s HeartLink
Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. The global nonprofit organization (NGO), partners medical volunteers from top teaching and research institutions with doctors, nurses and health care professionals in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam to develop or improve pediatric cardiac care programs. Since 1969, the organization has reached more than 1.5 million children.