U Hospital extends a helping HEART

Tibetan doctors are taking home life-saving procedures they’ve learned from U Hospital.

One HEART (Health, Education and Research in Tibet), an organization based in the division of maternal fetal medicine at the U, invited six Tibetan doctors and community health leaders to receive training in saving newborns’ lives.

One in every 10 babies in Tibet dies within the first hour of life, and three out of every 100 women die from pregnancy-related complications.

This is the first time Tibet has ever sent a group to the United States for medical training.

“[The Tibetan doctors] are extremely cooperative,” said pediatrician Bernhard Fassl. “They have been really helpful and given the necessary support.”

The group arrived April 1 for a month-long training program, which will include newborn and adult resuscitation, data collection and interpretation, rural health issues and perinatal education.

“There is development that needs to be made [in Tibet],” Fassl said. “We’re helping them take those steps and staying out of politics and religion,” he said.

Arlene Samen, founder and executive director of One HEART, said the group’s main goal is for all Tibetan women to have access to safe delivery of babies.

“We give them hope,” Samen said.

Tibet’s environment, access to health care and problems with the existing health care are causing the high infant mortality rate.

According to Samen, Tibet is about 20 to 30 years behind the United States in the medical field, but could catch up in the next decade.

“[Parts of Tibet] are very isolated,” Samen said. “It can take 24 hours to get to a clinic on foot or horseback,” she said.

Samen and other member of One HEART live and teach in Tibet at least three months of the year.

“To know we can help to keep some of them alive inspires me,” Samen said.

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