Doctor Joseph Knapp '71 is an established and successful cardiologist working with the International Heart Institute in Missoula, Montana.
Wanting to reach out to help those who do not have access to the resources that Americans enjoy, he partnered with 15 international cardiology practices to support the Children's Heart Fund of Ethiopia.
The goal is to develop a heart surgery program for the children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In February, Knapp traveled with a team of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and techs to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They instructed the local physicians and health providers by working alongside them during heart procedures. The hope is that 5 years from now, the Ethiopian doctors will have a self-sustaining cardiology/cardiovascular surgery capability for their children and young adults.
This visit was the first, but not the last, trip that Knapp will make to Ethiopia. He plans to make semiannual visits to continue the teaching he started earlier this year.
"It is an experience that has proven to be a life changing one for all of us that participated," says Knapp. "It certainly has reinforced for me the reason I chose to become a health care professional in the first place. I've practiced cardiology since 1982, and without question the two weeks I spent in Addis Ababa was the most rewarding experience of what has been a terrific career."
Knapp's only regret was that he didn't start volunteering sooner. "However," he notes. "It's never too late to give back."
"The photo to the right is of a 13 year old girl we operated on," says Knapp. "She had double valve surgery two days before this picture was taken."
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