Local News

UNC Doctors Open Hearts To Help Needy Nation

Posted December 13, 2004

— If you get sick in North Carolina, you are close to some of the best hospitals in the world. Many people with life-threatening illnesses in other parts of the world have little hope for a cure.

At University of North Carolina Hospitals, doctors Craig and Kim Selzman have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. They also know what it is like to work with much less.

The husband and wife team spent a week at a heart center in Tanzania last September. They were part of a 16-member team with

Project Open Hearts

.

"The mission is to try and educate, train the local population, so that they don't need people from the outside to come in," cardiothoracic surgeon Craig Selzman said.

Project Open Hearts' organizers do not encourage husband and wife physicians on their missions. The stress of working in primitive conditions could have affected their relationship and hurt the whole team. In this case, it did not.

"Personally, I mean, it's great being with your wife -- especially when she can tell me smart things and tell me dumb things that I shouldn't do and things like that," Craig Selzman said.

The couple left Tanzanian physicians and nurses with valuable experience. They took something home, as well.

"You appreciate what you have, not only as a physician, but as a human being," cardiologist Kim Selzman said.

Project Open Hearts is based in Denver.

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