Founder of Local Cancer Foundation Joins University Hospital Doctors on Mission Trip to Haiti
David Caldarella, a Manahawkin resident and founder of David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation, recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti led by a team of surgeons, nurses, fellows and medical students from the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University and University of Miami.
Caldarella is a former Stage IV cancer patient and a current volunteer and patient advocate at the Jefferson Center for Head and Neck Surgery in Philadelphia, which is one of the top-ranked ear, nose and throat programs in the U.S.
“It was truly an honor to have been invited and join the Jefferson team on this Haiti mission trip and to share a common goal in serving as ‘A Beacon of Hope’ that shines beyond our borders and out into the global community,” Caldarella stated.
Team members through the hospital’s Complex Head and Neck Care and Education (CHANCE) program expanded their top-ranked care from those who can travel to the City of Brotherly Love to give those afflicted by a complex thyroid disease or head injury in Haiti an enhanced opportunity of survival. Seven surgeries were fulfilled on the first two mission trips, and an additional 20 were accomplished on this third trip with numerous others seen in clinic.
Jefferson team members also united with Haitian doctors and connected with the Haitian people by going to Mass and seeing how their spirits are strengthened through song and prayer.
“Jefferson’s CHANCE foundation is not only about bringing medical care to Haiti, but also about educating the local medical professionals on how to continue the care after our visits,” said David M. Cognetti, co-director of the Jefferson Center for Head and Neck Surgery and associate professor of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. “When Jefferson was looking for a volunteer to provide a patient’s perspective, David Caldarella immediately came to mind. Not only has he experienced head and neck surgery firsthand, but as a lifelong resident of Long Beach Island, he has also witnessed the devastating effects of a hurricane.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. At least 200,000 people were killed during the 2010 earthquake, and at least 500 people were killed this past October during Hurricane Matthew. —K.A.E.