Do You See What I See? Augmented Reality in the OR

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ReSurge International is proud to partner with Ohana One International Surgical Aid, a global surgical training nonprofit organization whose mission is to cultivate high-quality surgical and anesthesia programs in developing areas around the world today. As part of their Surgical Sight program, ReSurge is among 14 non-profits that will be receiving Vuzix Smart Glasses, a technology that connects surgeons in low-income countries with experts from around the world with Augmented Reality (AR) technology.

The glasses use what’s known as “merged reality” so that the mentee can wear the glasses, and the mentor, sitting thousands of miles away can actually insert their hand into the mentee’s field of vision, as pictured below. In this way, ReSurge surgical mentors will see exactly what surgeons in the operating rooms are seeing, giving them the opportunity to guide and teach in real-time during surgical procedures.

Hands of ReSurge Consulting Medical Officer Dr. Jim Chang and Donald Laub fellow Anna Luan using the smart glasses to connect from two separate locations.

Through this groundbreaking program, surgical mentors and mentees worldwide can virtually train and operate together, in real-time, using revolutionary Vuzix Corporation smart glasses and Help Lightning software. This ongoing partnership supports mentees as they learn essential, life-saving skills and build self-reliance. Eventually, they can share what they have learned and train surgeons on their own, creating ripples of change that will save countless lives.

The Surgical Sight program is the brainchild of Dr. David Kulber, a ReSurge volunteer who started Ohana One. Dr. Kulber currently does this mentoring via Smart Glasses with our ReSurge surgical outreach partner Pedro Santos in Mozambique.

“The success of the first mentor/mentee program culminated with Dr. Santos passing his COSECSA boards for the first time while ranking second in all of Africa, and having other doctors wanting to volunteer,” states Kulber. “This experience created the nucleus to roll out a broader and more robust program so that physicians all over the world who work in limited-resource countries can have access to mentor/mentee relationships, which go beyond education and create deep personal bonds on a global scale.”

Other ReSurge partners in this program include: 

  • India: Dr. Kush Aeron, partnered with Dr. Marshall of Partington Private Practice, Partington Plastic Surgery & Laser Center
  • Uganda: Dr. Rose Aleyno, partnered with Dr. Cooney of Johns Hopkins University
  • Nepal: Dr. Shilu Shrestha (also a PWRS surgeon), partnered with Dr. Rod Hentz of Stanford University
  • Nepal: Dr. Pramila Shakya (also a PWRS surgeon), partnered with Dr. Lori Howell of Oregon Health and Science University
  • Tanzania: Dr. Seif Nuru (also a ReSurge scholar), partnered with Dr. Chris Conner of Private Practice, Vitalogy Skincare
  • Vietnam: Trung Hậu Le Thua, partnered with Dr. Dung Nguyen of Stanford University
  • Zimbabwe: Dr. Kevin Nduku, partnered with Dr. Gordon Lee of Stanford University

ReSurge is working with Ohana One to kick off the pilot program in full, now that most of the Surgical Sight Program pairs have received their VUZIX smartglasses and the associated training. During this pilot stage, ReSurge hopes to provide valuable feedback in order to grow the program and ultimately build surgical knowledge and capacity around the world, a core mission for both organizations.

We are excited about the potential impact of the program, as Dr. Pedro Santos has said that through Dr. Kulber’s mentorship, he has “been able to treat over 20 cases of complex reconstructions. However, the principles that have been passed on to me have allowed me to treat far more patients without Dr. Kulber’s guidance on the other side of the line. This is an easily reproducible model that can have a significant impact on surgeons and patients’ lives and should be used to improve patient care worldwide.”

“I feel this program is awesome and helps the surgeons from underdeveloped countries to have mentors from all over the world and share their expertise. It has helped me do the surgery, which would not have been possible without the guidance of my mentor Dr. Hentz. I feel very thankful to all the people involved in this program for helping me and my patients.”

– Dr. Shrestha

The Ohana One and ReSurge partnership provides “great potential for altering the concept and logistics of surgical volunteerism.”

– Dr. Rob Hentz

ReSurge is very grateful to Ohana One for sharing this extraordinary technology with us so that we can bring our surgical community closer together.

*This post was updated November, 2, 2021

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We are grateful for our opportunity to touch the lives of those needing surgical treatment worldwide and grow sustainable systems for local surgical teams in low-income countries. However, we cannot make an impact without your support. Donate today to create a ripple effect that changes the world through life-changing, no-cost reconstructive surgeries.