Four Keck Medicine of USC trauma surgeons supported medical teams and treated patients on a recent trip to Ukraine.
“Part of the reason I chose my specialty was to prepare for missions like this,” says Lydia Lam, MD, a trauma surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC.
She and Meghan Lewis, MD, also a trauma surgeon at Keck Medicine, taught emergency practices, including advanced trauma life support — a protocol for addressing injuries most likely to result in death.
Their goal: to support overburdened Ukrainian surgeons who have little experience in trauma surgery.
Kenji Inaba, MD, chief of trauma, emergency surgery and surgical critical care at Keck Medicine, overlapped with Matthew Martin, MD, a trauma surgeon at Keck Medicine, on separate trips.
One of the most fulfilling things a surgeon can do is to give back to society, providing care for those in need and teaching others how to continue doing so after you leave.Kenji Inaba, MD, chief of trauma, emergency surgery and surgical critical care
Working with surgeons and surgical residents in Ukraine, the pair treated military injuries spanning the “entire spectrum of trauma and emergency general surgery,” says Dr. Inaba, who has traveled with Dr. Lam for earthquake relief efforts in Haiti and Nepal.
They also consulted on civilian injuries and provided instruction to Ukrainian physicians and surgeons, trainees, law enforcement and soldiers.
Surgeons share history of global service, goodwill
The participants have deep roots in delivering on-the-ground care.
Dr. Inaba also serves as a reserve police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, and he is the department’s first and only chief surgeon. Before joining Keck Medicine, Dr. Lewis served in the U.S. Navy, where she treated sailors in overseas medical centers.
For Dr. Martin, the mission was a return to working in a combat zone, which he did for 24 years as a U.S. Army trauma surgeon — including deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Keck Medicine surgeons all traveled with nongovernmental organizations, and they plan to maintain contact with the Ukrainian personnel.
“One of the most fulfilling things a surgeon can do is to give back to society, providing care for those in need and teaching others how to continue doing so after you leave,” Dr. Inaba says.