Ain Shams, Cairo

(L to R, in blue gowns) Drs. Osama, Warf and Assem operate on a child.
(L to R, in blue gowns) Drs. Osama, Warf and Assem operate on a child.

Last year we set out to create a novel enterprise that would enable neurosurgeons around the world to come alongside their peers working in places where the needs are great and the resources few. We focus training on the ETV/CPC procedure in order to reduce the burden of shunt-dependance, optimizing the treatment of hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida for thousands of children. Taking it one step farther, we utilize modern remote presence technology to provide ongoing mentoring, giving surgeons the support and camaraderie that is vital to providing the best care.

Dr. Assem carrying a patient to the OR table.

In theory, we believe our model can be replicated over and over again, removing barriers to surgical care, bringing life-saving care to thousands and thousands of children around the world.

In practice, we knew the uncertainties and unknowns would start to surface as we launched our first center. Institutional bureaucracies, supply chain issues, misaligned partnerships, technology hiccups—any one of which could delay or derail our plans.

Patient on the OR table, the endoscopic approach clearly marked out.

Together with Dr. Benjamin Warf, Ms. Ashley Birch and Mr. Charles Howard, I traveled to Cairo last week to launch our inaugural center in Egypt. We were hosted by Dr. Osama Samir Aglan and Dr. Assem Mounir Abdel Latif at Ain Shams University, one of the leading neurosurgical training programs in Africa and the Middle East. To be honest, we had some trepidations on how it would go.

Dr. Ben Warf (center) training Dr. Osama (left) on using a flexible endoscope for the ETV/CPC procedure.

And then it happened.

Dr. Warf spent the first few cases training Dr. Osama. Dr. Assem Abdel Latif, Dr. Osama’s immediate supervisor, was trained on the next few; who, in turn, trained a senior neurosurgeon. In the course of one week, Dr. Warf trained three surgeons. That team surgically treated ten children, all presenting with different types of hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida. All recovered well. All went home.

Dr. Assem training a senior neurosurgeon in flexible endoscopy.

Most importantly, the relational equity reached provides a strong foundation for Dr. Warf to continue to train and mentor Dr. Osama. With Dr. Assem, we also have a talented and capable partner on the ground to support Dr. Osama’s development and growth. Together, we envision multiple centers capable of tackling the neurosurgical needs of more than 40 million Egyptian children.

Neuro Kids team (l to r): Charles Howard, Dr. Ben Warf, Ashley Birch, Derek Johnson

We are grateful to our hosts at Ain Shams University, especially to Dr. Osama and Dr. Assem. We also thank the team from Karl Storz that installed the endoscopic equipment and trained the team how to use and maintain it. Our friends at Ohana One provided the augmented reality and remote presence tech. We are very thankful for our partners. Most of all, we are thankful for you, those of you supporting us financially and otherwise. We truly would not have been able to launch this first center without you!