Humanitarianism in surgery

A. D. Schroeder, G. Campanelli, M. Cavalli, R. Cusick, R. Fitzgibbons, A. Gilbert, C. Lawson, J. Manion, B. Matthews, W. Reinpold, S. Roll, L. F. Telemaque, J. P. Wagner, D. C. Chen, C. J. Filipi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Humanitarianism is by definition a moral of kindness, benevolence and sympathy extended to all human beings. In our view as surgeons working in underserved countries, humanitarianism means performing the best operation in the best possible circumstances with high income country (HIC) results and training in-country surgeons to do the same. Hernia Repair for the Underserved (HRFU), a not for profit organization, is developing a long term public health initiative for hernia surgery in Western Hemisphere countries. We report the progress of HRFUs methods to render humanitarian care. Methods: In a collaborative effort, Creighton University and the Institute for Latin American Concern developed an outpatient surgery site for hernia surgery in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Based on this experience, we developed a sustainable care model by recruiting American and European Hernia Society expert surgeons, staff members they recommended, building relationships with local and industry partners, and selecting local surgeons to be trained in mesh hernioplasty. HRFU then extended the care model to other Western Hemisphere countries. Results: Between 2004 and 2015, the HRFU elective hernia morbidity and mortality rates for 2052 hernia operations were 0.7 and 0%, respectively. This is consistent with outcomes from HICs and confirms the feasibility of a public health initiative based on the principles of the Preferential Option for the Poor. Conclusions: HRFU has recorded HIC morbidity and mortality rates for hernia surgery in low and middle income countries and has initiated a new surgical training model for sustainability of effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-971
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Developing countries
  • Global surgery
  • Hernia
  • Humanitarianism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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