Surgeons Changing Lives in Artsakh


Dr. Igor Zakharyan, Chief of Plastic Surgery (left) with Dr. Hratch Karamanoukian, Cardiothoracic Surgeon (right).

In September, surgeons Dr. Hratch Karamanoukian and Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian began a one-week joint surgical humanitarian mission at the Central Republican Hospital in Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabakh Republic.  Both surgeons are active Fellows of the American College of Surgeons and have full-time practices in the United States.  The humanitarian trip marked a cornerstone in establishing state of the art medical and surgical facilities in Stepanakert and the surrounding communities of Karabakh.

The purpose of the surgical mission was to assess current standards for surgical care at the Central Republican Hospital and to share standards of surgical expertise in the surgeons’ respective fields.  Dr. Hratch Karamanoukian is a board certified cardiothoracic surgeon and vein surgeon with renown in the management of complex venous disease.  Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian is a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with additional expertise in facial plastic surgery.  The two surgeons were received by the Nagorno Karabagh Republic Minister of Health Dr. Sergei Movsesyan  and Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Karen Ghukasyan and actively participated in a transfer of surgical expertise with NKR surgeons.

The trip marks the second surgical mission for surgeon Dr. Hratch Karamanoukian to Stepanakert, NKR in the last four months.  In association with the Hope for Tommorrow Foundation based in upstate New York, Dr. Karamanoukian recently led a team of clinicians to Nagorno Karabakh Republic and donated laser-based medical equipment and ultrasonography equipment to assist the surgeons in the management of complex vein disease. The new machinery allowed for the treatment of complex vein problems on an outpatient basis instead of the traditional inpatient surgeries that previously required long hospital recoveries.

Both surgeons were welcomed by the entire surgical and medical community at the Central Republican Hospital and participated in numerous surgical forums. Medical directors, including those in the fields of vascular surgery, plastic surgery, urology, and anesthesiology proactively interacted with the surgeons during their visit.

Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian and wife Silvia donated specialized microsurgical instruments in order to help establish a microsurgery reconstructive program at the Central Republican Hospital. The microsurgery instruments were received by Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Igor Zakharyan in association with the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Karen Ghukasyan.  An established microsurgery center will allow for patients with complex injuries resulting from trauma or cancer to be treated with their own tissue, lending to a more functional recovery.

The surgical exercise allowed a transference of collective knowledge in the fields of cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, vein surgery, hand surgery, reconstructive plastic surgery, and facial surgery.  The surgeons of the Central Republican Hospital demonstrated unparalleled surgical acumen and both teams benefited greatly by the surgical collaboration.

“The Central Republican has faced enormous challenges over the last two decades as a result of limited infrastructure and supply capabilities. The sharing of surgical expertise across continents allowed for a productive exchange of information and collaboration” says Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian.  Two decades ago, the hospital was bombarded during the war and suffered irreparable damage.  The surgeons of the hospital were forced to treat the wounded in the basement operating rooms.  “ It is not only refreshing, but lifechanging to see and participate in the progress being made in the medical arena in Stepanakert,” adds Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian.

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