Wilkins-Barrick Chair in International Surgery Trains Neurosurgeons from Developing Countries

Nov 20, 2013 4:15 PM ET
Mark Bernstein, holder of the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Chair in international surgery, leads neurosurgeons in Abuja, Nigeria, through an awake brain surgery.

Barrick Beyond Borders

Once, when Dr. Mark Bernstein was removing a brain tumor from a young boy in Ghana, the electricity failed and the operating room went dark.

“We had to complete the surgery using flashlights,” says Bernstein, a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital and holder of the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Chair in International Surgery.   Power failures are a common occurrence in hospitals in developing countries, Bernstein says. So when he embarks on teaching missions to resource-poor countries, he often provides battery-powered, LED (light-emitting diode) lights that surgeons can wear on their foreheads as a contingency against blackouts. He also brings his vast knowledge and experience in neurosurgery, including awake craniotomy, brain surgery performed when a patient is awake.   For the past two and a half years, Bernstein’s teaching missions have been supported by a $5.5 million gift from Barrick and the family of former Barrick CEO, Greg Wilkins. Wilkins passed away in December 2009 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. He was treated at Toronto Western Hospital, where he underwent brain surgery performed by Bernstein. The gift in his name was provided in 2011 and established the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Chair in International Surgery, which oversees research and training programs for doctors in developing countries. It also established the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Fellowship, which provides annual funding for a neurosurgeon from a developing country to train at Toronto Western Hospital.   Continue reading this story at BarrickBeyondBorders.com