Germán Ochoa Traveling Fellowship

Mohamed Abdel-Wanis wins over Kenyan Spine Surgeons

The annual Germán Ochoa Traveling Fellowship is designed to enable our senior surgeons to spread the ethos of AO Spine to geographically diverse destinations. Mohamed Abdel-Wanis, Professor of Orthopedics at Sohag University in Egypt, was the recipient of the fifth Germán Ochoa Traveling Fellowship in 2019. Abdel-Wanis spoke to AO Spine about his travels to four different spine centers in Kenya, and his experiences from introducing AO Spine to new surgeon communities.

What was special about Kenya as an outreach destination?

Kenya has very strong potential for growth both in AO Spine membership and in skills of spine surgeons. Kenya’s new generation of spine surgeons are working very hard to improve the service they can offer to their patients.

What did you learn from those you met?

During my visit, I witnessed great ambition and, even when it can be a struggle to learn, how to get the greatest benefit for patients from the least available resources. I expect that within a few years, Kenyan spine surgery level will be outstanding.

What impact did your visit have on the local surgeon community?

In my seminars, we discussed the management of the most common spine problems that they face: cervical and thoracolumbar spine fractures. I was able to tell the young surgeons about AO Spine’s activities, and many of them have now become members: currently 20 out of almost 200 orthopedic surgeons in Kenya are AO Spine members, a very high proportion at 10%. AO Spine membership will enable them to access the scientific online resources of AO and will also pave the way toward an AO Spine fellowship.

What was your most memorable experience?

The residents in the University Hospital in Nairobi University asked me to extend my stay so that I could deliver an additional AO Spine Seminar, which reinforced my understanding of how much scientific benefit they derived from my seminars.

Clinical rounds, Kenyatta University Hospital, Nairobi
Clinical rounds, Kenyatta University Hospital, Nairobi
Seminar, Kenyatta University Hospital, Nairobi
Rift Valley Teaching Hospital, Egerton University, Nakuru
Post graduate lecture, Moi University, Eldoret
Seminar, Moi University, Eldoret
"Professor Wanis taught me how to mentor orthopaedic surgical trainees; a lifetime skill acquired during his visit," says Mark Lutomia, program director at Egerton University, Nakuru.
"Understanding Professor Wanis’ approach to malignant tumors was very enlightening," says Elijah Muteti of the Seminar held at Moi University, Eldoret. He was especially thankful for the honest open discussions

An educational encounter with lessons in life

One of the residents attending Abdel-Wanis' AO Spine seminar in Kenya was Faraj Taher, Orthopedic postgraduate resident year 4, Department of Orthopedics, University of Nairobi, Kenya. Taher thinks back on the most memorable moments and explains how he benefited from Abdel-Wanis’ Traveling Fellowship.

"Abdel-Wanis attended our morning classes, meeting the 40 postgraduate students in our orthopedic program and 7 of our faculty members including our professors. Abdel-Wanis covered the basics of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine fracture classifications, rationale of classifications, mechanism of injury, and rationale of fixation.

This was very well delivered via short case presentations and slideshows that were very interactive; plus, the lecturer was very enthusiastic!

Abdel-Wanis also participated in major ward rounds and we discussed real time patients; he taught us how to read the CT scans and MRIs and how to do basic neurological examinations of the patients.

For me, the most memorable time with Abdel-Wanis was hearing his many different life stories that had a fundamental life lesson in them. He also advised me on a personal basis about a case of metastatic spine disease of a family member, for which I am extremely grateful.

I would very much love Abdel-Wanis to visit us again, and take us through different topics on spine, as the first meeting was memorable and educational to both the students and our faculty."

The AO Spine Education Commission sincerely thanks Abdel-Wanis for his initiative and drive to spread the word about AO Spine. The Commission also congratulates this year’s winner Giovanni Barbanti-Brodano from Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli in Bologna, Italy. Barbanti-Brodano plans to visit Raja Rampersaud at the University of Toronto to learn more about resolving complications in spine surgery.

Germán Ochoa was a founding member of AO Spine Latin America and his involvement with AO Education for over 25 years speaks for his passion, immense experience in the academic field and exceptional contribution to bringing AO and AO Spine to the forefront of surgeon education.

Newsletter 25 | May 2020

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