KidsOR paediatric surgical scholar graduates!
“I love being around children, always have. For others aspiring to be paediatric surgeons, I think firstly they should have that love for children."
We're delighted that Dr. Dopgang Tchouhnang Herve, a KidsOR scholar from Cameroon, has officially become a paediatric surgeon after graduating from Joseph Ki-Zerbo University in Burkina Faso. He is the first among 10 general medics from West Africa, sponsored under the Kids Operating Room and Smile Train scholarships, to specialise in paediatric surgery. We had a chat with him as he takes us through his journey into becoming a paediatric surgeon.
How did your journey to become a surgeon start? And why paediatric surgery speciality?
I studied general medicine in Bamako (Mali) - it’s a bit expensive to study this in my home country. I then started my first hospital internship in a paediatric surgery department. It was a first great experience, especially to see how congenital malformations are repaired. I told myself this is what I want to do in my career. So, despite my other internships in other specialities, I always managed to keep the link with the paediatric surgery department. However, after I graduated in general medicine, there was no paediatric surgery school in Mali. So, on the recommendation of my professor in Mali, I went to Burkina-Faso to continue my studies. There, I also met some very good teachers, such Prof Albert Wandraogo, and ultimately graduated there.
I feel very really comfortable with children. All I can say is I enjoy my job.
How did you discover about the Smile Train/KidsOR scholarship? Where did you receive your training?
The scholarship information was posted in a paediatric surgeon forum. Four of us from Cameroon applied and we were lucky to be all accepted. I did all my training in Burkina-Faso, concurrently at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University and Hospital Center University Pediatric – Charles De Gaulle.
The most difficult situation I have faced is when parents are afraid of their child proceeding with a surgery. They withdraw– like that’s the last thing they want to hear. We try to explain to the parents why surgery is important and will save their lives and/or improve the state of a child. We win sometimes, other times we don’t.
Did you have a mentor and what was the most valuable experience with the mentor?
I had several mentors during my training, the most recent one is Prof Albert Wandraogo. I have assisted him in several interventions. The best one was the separation of conjoined twins in April 2021 which was a success.
What was your training experience like? What was the impact of having paediatric equipment?
My main objective is to become one of the best paediatric surgeons of my generation and to be able to contribute to the lack of quality care in my country. For this, I am working hard every day and I’m ready to do all the necessary training. In 2019, KidsOR provided Pédiatrique Charles De Gaulle Hospital with paediatric equipment which has made our learning process much easier. After that came the image intensifier which facilitated the management of our orthopaedics patients.
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