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Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on October 21, 2010

Labels: China , Global Health Expertise, Women’s and Children’s Health

“Welcome home.”

This phrase, as it appeared on the screen, made me pause and reflect as I sat in a meeting room at the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center nearly 7,500 miles away from my home in Washington, D.C. But as I pondered the phase, I thought to myself, “I am home.”

For the past ten years, I’ve visited my Shanghai “home,” also known as the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, at least once a year. I have watched the hospital grow, develop and mature into the world’s #1 children’s hospital for pediatric cardiac surgery.

Last year, the dedicated surgeons at the SCMC, most of them trained through Project HOPE programs, performed more than 3,000 pediatric heart surgeries. To put this accomplishment into perspective, the largest program in the United States does nearly 1,000 pediatric heart surgeries in one year.

My Shanghai home has had many visitors. In 2009, more than 1.1 million children and their families walked through the doors for care at the SCMC. In addition, nearly 7,900 surgeries were performed on children.

Also, 44 children received bone marrow transplants at the SCMC – the highest number of any children’s hospital in China. And because more and more children from China and Asia are coming to the SCMC for cancer treatment, there will soon be a new addition to my Shanghai home – a seven-story oncology tower that will have more than 125 beds.

But that is just the beginning of the expansion plans now on the drawing board for my Shanghai home. My longtime friend, Jiang Zhongyi, Secretary of the Party Committee for the SCMC, shared with me an ambitious and visionary five-year plan for the hospital.

Over the next five years, the SCMC will continue to advance its three core programs in pediatric cardiology, pediatric oncology and hematology, as well as pediatric development and behavioral medicine. In addition, the hospital will expand its research capabilities and add another 500 clinical care beds. All this, with the goal of becoming China’s – if not Asia’s – leading children’s hospital by 2020.

When I think of “homes,” I often think of families. As my dear friend Mr. Jiang reminded me, Project HOPE and the SCMC are family.

Mr. Jiang then told me a touching story. He said that each new SCMC family member, whether they be a physician, nurse, technician or administrator, must visit the statue of Dr. William Walsh, Project HOPE’s founder, which sits on the SCMC grounds just next to the Cardiology Tower.

There the new family member reads this inscription, “Dr. William B. Walsh: Doctor, Teacher, and Friend to the World.” With that powerful and moving thought in mind, the new SCMC family member can then begin work at this very special institution.

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