An international medical team led by the Israeli surgeon who pioneered an overnight Heroin detoxification treatment has just performed a world first in the mountains of Central America.|
Responding to a plea from local surgeons, Dr. ANDRE WAISMANN flew from Israel to Costa Rica at the weekend to attempt to save the life of a dying 6 year-old drug addict.
The mercy dash to a small hospital in the mountains of Cost Rica also involved Waismann assembling a team of fellow intensive care specialists for the historic procedure.
The boy, Endris Guzman, had been addicted to Morphine for the past five years - ever since first receiving repeated doses of the Heroin-like pain killer following surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Dr. Waismann was asked to intervene by the boy's doctors after they learned of the Israeli's successes treating thousands of adult Heroin and Methadone addicts using an accelerated opiate detoxification procedure under light anaestesia.
"This was by far the most complex and delicate case I have ever undertaken," 39 year-old Waismann said after the successful 5-hour procedure in the SAN CARLOS Public Hospital, two hours north of the Costa Rican capital, San Jose.
"Not only was he the first child I have treated in this manner, but this boy's case was further complicated by the fact he had some quite severe physical and neurological disabilities. These stem from both the initial brain tumor operation and from continuous morphine use."
Unable to be fed other than by a nasal-gastric tube, the boy weighed just 13.5 kilos.
For the past five years, his mother had to inject him 4 times a day with Morphine to stave off her son's crippling withdrawal symptoms.
"We had been unable to wean him off the drug using traditional methods", said Dr. Julia MATAMOROS, a pain management doctor at the San Carlos hospital in Quesada. She is the same doctor who send out a plea to Dr. Waismann for help via the Internet several weeks ago.
"We were all exasperated by Endris' conditions," she said. "It was tragic, both for himself and his family, I was simply hoping for some advice, some information that might assist us improve his chances. Instead, Dr. Waismann offered to fly in, set up an intensive care unit and work with us to release this boy from his prison. "This was my message in a bottle."
Dr. Matamoros inherited the boy's case two months ago when his mother finally brought him to the hospital, unable to find a viable vein in which to continue injecting him.
"What we have all witnessed and been privileged to be part of is something quite remarkable. In medical terms it is undoubtedly of huge significance. In humanitarian terms, no words do it justice.
"Here we had a boy who was dying, who was totally and utterly addicted, who has now been transformed into the responsive, smiling little boy we always knew was trapped inside this drug-ravaged body.
"Dr. Waismann has given a family back their only son, and he has given us an insight into the future of medicine."
Within 24 hours of the procedure, which involves using the opiate-antagonist drug Naltrexone to effectively block the boy's cravings, Endris was sitting up and eating. Something his doctors say he has not been able to do in years.
The medical team which observed and assisted Dr. Waismann comprised an Australian intensive care surgeon and several senior Costa Rican pediatricians and anesthesiologists.
All say they are now convinced the treatment will be a vital stepping stone to the eventual treating of opiate addicted babies.