In October 2013, Lilit Garibyan, MD, PhD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, and Rox Anderson, MD, director of the Wellman Center, made their first trip to Armenia to create a medical laser center for children to help treat vascular malformations and scars. Their colleague, Los-Angeles-based dermatologist H. Ray Jalian, MD, who completed a laser fellowship at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, joined them.
“Being born in Yerevan, Armenia and coming to the U.S. in 1991 at the age of 12, I always aspired to go back to Armenia when I had something to give back to the people,” says Garibyan. “In 2013, with Rox’s help and inspiration, I found something to give back.”
During their first trip, they evaluated more than 70 patients with scars and treated them using a Lumenis UltraPluse scar treatment laser. Because medical laser technology did not previously exist in Armenia, the group also trained local doctors to allow continuity of care to patients with vascular birthmarks and scars.
“Both Rox and I were so inspired by the success of our first trip and so touched by the gratitude of the patients we treated that we decided to work hard to obtain lasers and return to establish a permanent medical laser clinic there,” says Garibyan.
“Being born in Yerevan, Armenia and coming to the U.S. in 1991 at the age of 12, I always aspired to go back to Armenia when I had something to give back to the people. In 2013, with Rox’s help and inspiration, I found something to give back.” -Lilit Garibyan, MD, PhD
Garibyan and Anderson returned to Armenia again with Jalian in April 2015, along with Nishan Goudsouzian, MD, of the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine. This time they were able to get the Syneron-Candela Laser Company to donate and ship two lasers to Arabkir Pediatric Hospital in Armenia, where they established a home for the laser clinic. Along with caring for more than 70 patients during the one week visit, the team also gave lectures and trained local plastic surgeons to use the laser so they could continue treatments.
The ultimate goal of these missions is to establish a sustainable laser center. A new laser from Quanta System has been donated and is currently being shipped to Arabkir Hospital. The team will return to the hospital this fall to treat patients, train doctors and give lectures.
“Unfortunately, sometimes the most effective and innovative health care technologies don’t get to the patients who need them most,” says Anderson. “We’re determined to change that.”
Read more articles from the 07/01/16 Hotline issue.