We have a lot of kids with congenital heart defects that we aren’t able to identify. Each year, a doctor from Port Moresby comes up to Mt. Hagen to do screening echos on kids who have heart murmurs. Depending what the echo shows, the kids may or may not qualify for surgery that can be done either in Port Moresby or in Australia. We typically send all our kids with murmurs and those who seem to be in heart failure, not knowing who can benefit from surgery and who can’t. The doctor who comes to Mt. Hagen ends up needing to see a lot of kids in a short period of time and isn’t always able to see everyone.
We are all missionary physicians who have learned to do things outside of our training, but cardiac echos have not previously been something we have mastered. This past fall, I met Dr. Kirk Milhoan at the World Medical Mission Prescription for Renewal Conference. Kirk is a pediatric cardiologist who travels around the world doing screenings on kids with heart defects to see what is wrong and if they qualify for surgery. As I got talking to Kirk and started asking questions, he said he would love to come and help teach us some basics about echos and help us out. It seemed like a great idea to me and to those here also.
So this past week we have had the privilege of learning from Kirk about cardiac echos and pediatric cardiology things. It was a blessing to have him here and to glean some of his knowledge from him. He taught us a lot in a short period of time and we look forward to having him come back and teach us some more.