June 7th and 8th, 2012 will go down in VBF history as one of our hugest milestones. A team of 6 physicians plus VBF President and Founder, Dr. Linda traveled to Moscow for VBF’s First International Compassion Trip.
Dr. Linda noted that over a year ago she was frustrated at the thought of bringing one child at a time to the USA for treatment from countries where physicians were not trained to treat vascular birthmarks. Each surgery and trip to the US could cost upwards of $20,000-$30,000. Dr. Linda envisioned using that same amount of money to bring a team of doctors from the USA to each country that needed training. The VBF experts would lecture for one full day, operate for free for one full day, and conduct a clinic. It was a win/win/win idea and Moscow was the first stop on our international journey to bring the treatment and training to countries in need.
The VBF joined with the Pediatric Oncology and Hamematology Research Institute NN Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center in Moscow to make this compassion trip a reality. Since the hospital was already conducting an annual conference on pediatric tumors why not add the vascular birthmarks team to the agenda? It was a perfect fit. The invitation came and our Experts were more than happy to volunteer their time and services. VBF was also able to receive a grant for funding of travel expenses and the Research Institute in Moscow covered meals and lodging.
This is a historical event for VBF and for the joint relationship between USA physicians and Moscow physicians. This trip had another purpose and that was to launch a routine vascular birthmarks clinic. Olga Bachuk, the VBF Russia Executive Director coordinated patients for the clinic. Dr. Tatyana Belysheva, the Medical Director of VBF Russia and also the physician liaison between Moscow and the USA, worked with Olga and the medical team at the Institute. She has also been receiving free laser training by VBF laser experts Dr. Roy Geronemus and Dr. Stuart Nelson.
The VBF International Team, referred to as the VBF iTEAM consisted of Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon who presented at the conference on the Psycho-social Impact of Having an Infant with a Hemangioma, she also presented before a team of Psychologists who are working with the families and she did a presentation before families helping them to understand what a vascular birthmark is and what they can expect from treatment. Dr. Martin Mihm, VBF’s Research Director and Co-Medical Director initiated the morning session with a presentation on the Histopathology of Benign Versus Malignant Lesions. He also spent Friday presenting on the latest research concerning melanoma to Moscow’s leading melanoma experts. Dr. J. Stuart Nelson, VBF’s Co-Medical Director presented an Overview of Laser Therapy for Treating Vascular Lesions and Non-Vascular Lesions. He also spent Friday with Dr. Geronemus performing laser treatments. Dr. Nelson actually spent 3 days performing free laser treating while in Moscow. In total, over 100 patients were treated for free in Moscow. Dr. Roy Geronemus presented on the Treatment of Infantile Lesions with the Laser and he also spent Friday treating patients with the laser. Dr. Belysheva, VBF Russia’s Medical Director presented on the Situation in Russia regarding the treatment of vascular lesions in children. In the afternoon session Dr. Gregory Levitin spoke on Hemangiomas and Malformations – Diagnosis and Management. He also preformed free surgeries on Friday. Following Dr. Levitin, Dr. Anton Hasso presented on the role of Diagnosis and Interventional Radiology in the treatment of Vascular Anomalies and he saw patients in an informal clinic on Friday. Dr. Robert Rosen finished with a combined presentation on Sclerotherapy and Embolization for Treating Pediatric Tumors and Interventional Management of Trunk and Extremity Vascular Malformations. He also saw patients on Friday and performed treatments for free.
As a result of this first international compassion trip, over 100 children and adults were treated for free. In addition, Dr. Linda is working with a team in Moscow to establish a free humanitarian clinic that will do free laser treatments every 6 weeks on a Saturday morning. Dr. Linda is also working with Dr. Gregory Levitin and the VBF Russia team to bring a little girl with extensive hemangioma to New York City where Dr. Levitin will operate on her for free.
VBF would like to thank M. I. Davydov, the Director of NN Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center for hosting our event. We would also like to thank Dr. M. D. Aliev, Dr. Vladimir Poljakov, and Dr. Marina Doroshenko for welcoming us and making us a part of their exceptional program.
A special thanks to our two translators, Olga and Tanya who will be working with our current VBF Russia team to grown, expand, and fund humanitarian efforts in Moscow for children and adults suffering from a vascular birthmark.
Despite the economy and the trend toward less and less donations, VBF has embarked on its greatest mission and that is to bring vascular birthmark education and treatment to the countries that have not been able to help their children or adults affected by these lesions. We are thrilled to announce we will be heading to India in 2013 and to China in 2014.
To all of our donors, because of your generosity, our doors are still open and we were able to treat 100 children for free in Moscow. Thank you and if you would like to give to the VBF iTEAM and their international outreach, just click on our DONATE button and select VBF International.