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Surgical Programs

Medical care, especially surgery, is expensive. One of BethanyKids’ key values is that no child should be denied surgery because of lack of funds. So, to that end, BethanyKids offers highly subsidized care for children whose families would otherwise not be able to afford the life-saving and life-transforming surgical care we provide. We do so across an increasing amount of countries, up to 6 as of the spring of 2020.

We offer a range of pediatric surgical procedures, but over time have certainly noted that some are more common than others.

Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus

One of the most common conditions we see in pediatric care in sub saharan Africa is spina bifida. In fact, according to a study performed in the British Journal of Medicine:

It’s estimated that more than 100,000 new cases of spina bifida occur annually in sub-Saharan Africa¹, a region where less than 5% of the population has access to surgery.

Spina bifida occurs when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) don’t form properly around part of the baby’s spinal cord. Infants born with spina bifida may have an open lesion where significant damage to the spinal cord occurs. Although the opening can be surgically repaired shortly after birth, any nerve damage is permanent.

Many children born with spina bifida will also develop hydrocephalus, an imbalance of the production and/or absorption of cerebrospinal fluid. If left untreated, infant hydrocephalus can lead to brain damage, development issues, blindness and death. Most children require surgery and the most common treatment is the insertion of a shunt to drain fluid away from the brain.

In addition to surgery, outpatient care, rehabilitation and support, BethanyKids also provides nutritional supplements, such as folic acid, and dietary information to help in preventing the incidence of spina bifida.

Other Types of Surgery

We also provide a broad range of pediatric surgical care for children with a variety of congenital or acquired conditions. Where appropriate, we use minimally invasive procedures (e.g. flexible endoscopy, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, cystoscopy) to diagnose and treat many urinary, abdominal and thoracic conditions. Some common conditions treated are listed below:

Disorders in Genital Development

Some children, because of enzyme or other hormonal defects, are born with abnormal genitalia. Some causes of this can be life-threatening in the first few weeks of life. Treatment involves consultation from medical physicians as well as surgical intervention.

Congenital Anorectal Anomalies

There is a spectrum of conditions, some anatomic and some functional, that prevents a child from stooling normally. These include anorectal malformations (where the anus is misplaced or absent) as well as Hirschsprung Disease in which nerve cells in the large intestine are absent resulting in a functional blockage.

Congenital Esophageal and Intestinal Problems

These conditions include such things as malrotation with abnormal twisting of the intestine to anomalies where the intestinal tube isn’t intact (atresia) somewhere along its path from the mouth to the anus. These typically require diagnosis and operative treatment around the time of birth.

Growths and Tumors

We care for children with a wide range of tumours from simple cysts under the skin to cancers located on the arms and legs or in the belly, chest, or neck. We work alongside medical cancer specialists to ensure the best care possible for children with cancer.

Traumatic or Acquired Injuries

We see and manage all severe traumatic injuries in children regardless of the mechanism. Where necessary, we work together with other specialties, such as orthopedics and/or neurosurgery, to provide comprehensive care for the injured child.

Treatment of Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

PDA is a condition where a connection between the heart and the aorta (the largest artery in the body) doesn’t close after birth. Some children require operative closure since the condition can lead to heart and lung problems.