Benefis Health System is a nonprofit independent health care system based in the city of Great Falls in the state of Montana in the United States.

By Julianne Dellorso – MTN News |

Dr. Roberto Amado-Cattaneo, Cardiac Surgeon at Benefis Health System, and Lacey Gallagher, Benefis Spirit of Women Outreach Coordinator, stopped by Montana This Morning to talk about an upcoming mission to Ethiopia where Dr. Amado-Cattaneo and a team of doctors and nurses will be performing life-saving heart surgeries on children.

Dr. Amado-Cattaneo will host a presentation Tuesday evening to speak more about the mission.

Mission to Ethiopia – Life-Saving Cardiac Surgery for Children
Tuesday, February 9th
5:30 refreshments, 6:00 p.m. presentation
Benefis Health System
Cameron Auditorium, located on the East Campus

Here is some more information about the trip, provided by Benefis Health System:

· Dr. Roberto Amado-Cattaneo – Cardiac Surgeon
· Dr. Joshua Newsted – Anesthesiologist
· Wells Geils – Perfussionist
· Jamie Warcken, RN
· Rachel Reimnitz, RN

Drugs, supplies, valves – value claimed to customs in their baggage:  $106,000 & still a little short on funds. The group will travel, February 12th from Great Falls to Washington DC then Washington DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Ethiopia is located on the east side of the continent on what’s known as the “Horn of Africa”. There are 90 million inhabitants. Ethiopia is one of the poorest African countries with one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world. Ethiopia also has one of the most inadequate health care systems in Africa; the average life expectancy is about 58 years.

There are no trained providers to provide the surgeries for the treatment of rheumatic heart valve disease (RHVD) which is caused by untreated rheumatic Fever (RF) that develops from untreated episodes of streptococcal pharyngitis, commonly known as strep throat.

Cardiac surgery is not available in Ethiopia where more than 3,000 children desperately wait for cardiac surgery, without it they all will die.

In 2009, with the generous support of a private individual, the Cardiac Center of Ethiopia was built on the grounds of the Black Lion Specialized Hospital at Addis Ababa University. Since the opening, surgical teams from all over the world bring surgeons, nurses and all the equipment necessary to perform surgeries.

The Center provides basic personnel for operations.

There are no supplies or disposable equipment to perform the surgeries.

Each team is effectually self-sufficient. Roughly six teams visit regularly, one of them from Great Falls, Montana.

All the expenses are funded by the individual members of the team, while some supplies are donated by the makers of the disposables and the pharmaceuticals.

During their two-week stay, 12 – 14 surgeries are anticipated. Without surgery, these individuals, mere children will die. They are on a waiting list – a death row – where their only option is surgery.

The idea behind this tremendous effort is twofold: perform lifesaving surgeries, and teach the local staff of doctors and nurses, so they eventually become self-sufficient. The hope is that the Ethiopian Government will soon start supporting the Cardiac Center to facilitate the operations. Until educational programs and penicillin become regularly available, the team will continue performing these lifesaving surgeries.

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