Dr. Mangiameli's Surgical Mission to Ghana
Dr. David Mangiameli, a respected board-certified surgical oncologist at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists and New York Breast Health, is renowned for his patient-centered approach, extending his dedication beyond the workplace.
His venture into international mission work began in 2019. This year, he fostered a joint venture between our NY Cancer Foundation and Operation International, an organization founded by Dr. Medhat Allam, a surgeon based in Southampton.
Operation International operates as a nonprofit platform uniting medical teams from the United States and Europe, offering specialized care worldwide. The organization encompasses various medical disciplines, including women's health, pediatrics, orthopedics, plastic surgery, and primary care. Operation International also maintains relationships and facilities around the world, where the teams arrive and provide care. Approximately 10-12 mission trips are deployed annually, reaching places like Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Bhutan, and Bolivia.
Dr. Vito Alamia is a renowned gynecologist on eastern Long Island, and friend and colleague to Dr. Mangiameli, having delivered Dr. Mangiameli’s daughter almost twenty years ago. Dr Alamia, a medical director for Operation International, established the Women’s Health Team, appointing Dr. Mangiameli as the lead surgeon for breast cancer management.
The 22 person mission to Ghana, with the inclusion of three gynecologists and Dr. Mangiameli's son, David, unfolded with a remarkable journey covering 12,500 miles, five airliners, and six buses. Over ten days, the team executed 5 1/2 clinical days, engaging in 62 major surgeries, including a notable case involving the removal of a 15lb mass from an 8-year-old girl.
Despite logistical challenges, the team not only treated patients but also played a vital role in educating and certifying over 80 regional midwives and pediatric residents in neonatal care. Dr. Mangiameli witnessed the stark realities of extreme poverty within the community, where patients suffered the loss of family to starvation and had a complete absence of very basic healthcare and education.
The hospital where the team operated is a Catholic mission hospital that lacks basic components present in western hospitals. The deficiencies are buttressed by Operation International and the teams that arrive. This requires constant fundraising, awareness, team-building and soft-heartedness. Operation International has built four new operating rooms, and supplied laparoscopic towers, and continuously supports the facility and relationships that allow this effort to perpetually continue. This is one of many sites.
Dr. Mangiameli reflected on the aggressive nature of surgeries due to the absence of advanced treatments like systemic chemotherapy or radiation. “If you only get one shot at treating their cancer, you surgically give it everything you have.”
The trip left a profound impact on Dr. Mangiameli, who encountered patients with advanced-stage cancers and witnessed the community's last-ditch efforts to seek medical assistance. Notable was a teacher who traveled three hours for surgery and planned to visit the New York Breast Health Patchogue office in April, signifying the enduring connections formed.
Uncertain about Operation International’s next destination, whether Asia, South America or back to Africa, Dr. Mangiameli and the team eagerly prepare for future missions hoping they leave behind impact where it was most needed.