Mass General doctors are helping to create a medical laser center to treat children in Armenia for vascular malformations and scars.

In October 2013, Lilit Garibyan, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Wellman Center for Photomedicine, and Rox Anderson, MD, director of the Wellman Center, made their first trip to Armenia to create a medical laser center for children to help treat vascular malformations and scars. Their colleague, Los-Angeles-based dermatologist H. Ray Jalian, MD, who completed a laser fellowship at the Wellman Center, joined them.

During their first trip, they evaluated more than 70 patients with scars and treated them using a Lumenis UltraPluse scar treatment laser.

“Being born in Yerevan, Armenia and coming to the U.S. in 1991 at the age of 12, I always aspired to go back to Armenia when I had something to give back to the people,” Dr. Garibyan says. “In 2013, with Rox’s help and inspiration, I found something to give back.”

During their first trip, they evaluated more than 70 patients with scars and treated them using a Lumenis UltraPluse scar treatment laser.

Because medical laser technology did not previously exist in Armenia, the group also trained local doctors to allow continuity of care to patients with vascular birthmarks and scars.

Return to Armenia

“Both Rox and I were so inspired by the success of our first trip and so touched by the gratitude of the patients we treated that we decided to work hard to obtain lasers and return to establish a permanent medical laser clinic there,” Dr.  Garibyan says.

Drs. Garibyan and Anderson returned to Armenia again with Dr. Jalian in April 2015, along with Nishan Goudsouzian, MD, of the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine.

“Unfortunately, sometimes the most effective and innovative healthcare technologies don’t get to the patients who need them most,” says Dr. Anderson. “We’re determined to change that.”

This time they were able to get the Syneron-Candela Laser Company to donate and ship two lasers to Arabkir Pediatric Hospital in Armenia, where they established a home for the laser clinic. Along with caring for more than 70 patients during the one week visit, the team also gave lectures and trained local plastic surgeons to use the laser so they could continue treatments.

The Missions’ Goal

The ultimate goal of these missions is to establish a sustainable laser center. A new laser from Quanta System has been donated and is currently being shipped to Arabkir Hospital. The team will return to the hospital this fall to treat patients, train doctors and give lectures.

“Unfortunately, sometimes the most effective and innovative healthcare technologies don’t get to the patients who need them most,” says Dr. Anderson. “We’re determined to change that.”

To learn more about how you can support the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, please contact us.

This story was first published by MGH Hotline.