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The Division of Pediatric Surgery and International Health


The Division of Pediatric Surgery has been involved in various global medical outreach activities for the past 30 years.  The Division and all of its members have been active participants in the Costa Rican Connection through the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia.  Through this program, a children’s surgeon from our faculty accompanies three pediatricians from the University in a teaching program in San Jose, Costa Rica once yearly. This program is held in conjunction with the Children’s Hospital in San Jose.  Once a year, three of the faculty from the San Jose Children’s Hospital have come to Charlottesville to participate in educational activities within the Department of Pediatrics.  This past year, (2012) we obtained a commitment from both our Department of Pediatrics and the San Jose Pediatricians to include a surgical specialist in each of these ventures on an annual basis.  Over the years, we have had several of the pediatric surgical trainees from San Jose come to the United States to work in our Division for three to six months at a time.  These physicians are now practicing pediatric surgery in several of the Central American countries and have been anxious to maintain their attachments to the Division here at the University.  Both Dr. Rodgers and Dr. McGahren from the Division of Pediatric Surgery have visited San Jose, Costa Rica on several occasions to lecture and work in their operating rooms.  This past year, Dr. Rodgers spent a week in San Jose teaching and demonstrating thoracoscopic dorsal sympathectomies for hyperhidrosis in the operating room.  I was able to train four of the Costa Rican pediatric surgeons to do this operation and all continue to perform the procedure since I left.  I also attended the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Pediatric Connection in San Jose in 2012.  This involved several lectures and time spent in the operating room with local pediatric surgeons.  As a consequence of this visit, we are working to establish a formal relationship with the Pediatric Surgery Department in San Jose such that their faculty members will come to the United States and work in our Division for one to two months at a time.  We anticipate that three or four of their faculty members will come per year.  Part of this program will be to develop an opportunity for our faculty to spend time in San Jose working with their faculty and residents as well.

The Division of Pediatric Surgery has recently become involved with our Department of Surgery’s educational efforts in Rwanda.  We are working to identify a group of pediatric surgeons from the US and Canada who would be willing to spend one to three months at a time in the teaching hospital in Kigali, working with the local surgery residents doing pediatric surgery and teaching pediatric surgical techniques.  We currently have a pediatric surgeon in Kigali for the first three months of 2013 (Dr. Michael Curci from Portland, Maine) and we have a second surgeon identified who will go to Kigali in late March for three months (Dr. Katarina Biller from New York City).  Both Drs. Rodgers and Rasmussen have spent short periods of time in Kigali talking with the surgeons in that hospital about how we can help them provide a pediatric surgical curriculum to their residents.  Dr. Rodgers plans to go back  for a short time in February, 2013 to operate with their residents.

Individual members of the division have participated in medical mission efforts in various other locations.  Dr. McGahren has been to Romania on two occasions, one with operation SMILE.  Dr. Rodgers has been to Romania on three occasions, working with the International Health Group from the University of Louisville.  He recently spent a short period of time in Ghana with this same group, working in a rural hospital, teaching and demonstrating pediatric surgical techniques.

Our Division has been and will continue to be very active with international medical mission work, teaching and demonstrating pediatric surgical techniques.  In addition to the ongoing work with the surgeons at the Children’s Hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica, I anticipate our increasing involvement with the Rwanda surgical education mission.

Dr. Bradley Rodgers, January 2013

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