Guest post from Rashid M. Janjua, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery and Radiology
Director, Interventional Stroke Program
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Charles L. Branch, Jr. MD is the Eben Alexander Jr Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery at Wake Forest University, and he has a long family tradition of providing community service in neurosurgery. In 2004, his father, Charles Branch, Sr. MD, received the American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ Humanitarian Award, in recognition of his extensive humanitarian efforts in Haiti, Guyana and Nigeria. The senior Dr. Branch worked for many years, helping patients in Nigeria through missions to their clinics, eventually devoting time and effort into building an emergency room for the neediest of patients.
Over many years, Dr. Charles Branch, Jr., has continued this tradition, accompanying fellow care givers to missions all over the world. An incredibly special opportunity happened this year when he joined his daughter, Leslie Branch, MD, a plastic surgery resident, along with her mentor Lisa David, MD, to Togo. Togo is a small country between Ghana and Nigeria, and has a population of 7.1 million people who have an average life expectancy of just 56 years. The country has just four physicians available per 100,000 people, so the need for supplemental medical care is obvious.
The eight-person group traveled to Tsiko, which is 30 minutes north of Kpalime, and a two hour drive from Togo’s capital city, Lome. Once in Tsiko, Russ Ebersole, MD, who runs the small hospital, welcomed the team. Despite limited resources, the team worked with the local physicians and surgery residents and to provide diverse surgical care to adults and children. Simple interventions, such as basic wound care, were provided to many. Additionally, complex reconstruction procedures — such as for cleft lips — were performed. Towards the end of the trip, a seventy-year old gentleman traveled extremely far to have Dr. Branch review his lumbar spine CT scan, which revealed advanced spinal stenosis. Fortunately, this was easily treated with surgery and the man experienced significant pain relief and improved function.
The Branch family tradition of providing access to care to patients in great need — both home and abroad — continues, and neurosurgery is proud to have Charles L. Branch, Jr., MD as our colleague.