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In Ukraine, Houston Methodist Physicians Provide Much-Needed Reconstructive Surgery Expertise

May 16, 2023 - Eden McCleskey

More than a year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the war's impact on the nation's health care system has been devastating, as hundreds of medical facilities have been destroyed, disrupting providers' ability to provide care for both routine and war-related needs.

To help address the shortage and provide specialized expertise in reconstructive surgery, a team of Houston Methodist doctors and health care workers recently traveled to Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine as part of a 13-person medical mission.

From Mar. 25-Apr. 3, 2023, the full team performed 112 procedures on 30 patients, including civilians and soldiers wounded by explosives. As part of the mission, coordinated by the Face the Future Foundation, the group also provided training for Ukrainian health care workers in the types of surgical techniques most urgently needed in war-torn areas of the country.

The Houston Methodist team consisted of facial plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Brissett, head and neck cancer surgeon Dr. Joshua Kain, anesthesiologist Dr. Burke Bradley and surgical technician Heather Leard.

Although Ukraine has many experienced surgeons, the large volume of patients and extremely complex nature of the injuries have exacerbated a system already under duress.

"The head and neck surgeons at these hospitals are trained in procedures like sinus surgeries but often have no experience managing this level of injury," said Dr. Brissett.

To boost technical knowledge and skills, Drs. Brissett and Kain hosted teaching sessions on trauma management and livestreamed several of the surgeries they performed.

Click here to go behind-the-scenes of Houston Methodist's medical mission in Ukraine and here to read a Houston Chronicle article about the trip.

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