Dr. Korosh Khalili stands next to six donated Ultrasound Machines. (Photo: UHN)

When Dr. Korosh Khalili and his fiancée, Ladan, printed "monetary gifts preferred" on invitations for their wedding in 2011, guests read between the lines, arriving to the reception with sealed envelopes in hand.

While most couples look to apply the money received towards hefty wedding or honeymoon expenses, these newlyweds had a different plan.

With the cash collected from the wedding (and additional donations from colleagues and friends) they raised $37,000 -- all of which was put towards the purchase of a portable Ultrasound machine and supplies for the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Making a difference while seeing the world

Before meeting Ladan, Khalili worked as an Abdominal Radiologist at the Joint Department of Medical Imaging (JDMI) for 10 years. Excited to make even more of a difference while seeing the world, he decided to take a one year sabbatical leave after the wedding, hoping to share his specialized skills through volunteer work.

After researching and considering several developing countries, Peru and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, made the couple's shortlist.

Some unexpected news...

Only a few months after their wedding, Khalili and his wife made their way to Peru, where he provided lectures and training to local radiologists as a visiting professor. Things were going well until they received some unexpected news - Ladan was pregnant. After some discussion, Ladan decided to cut her trip short and head back home to Toronto.

Dr. Korosh Khalili scans a patient at Black Lions Hospital in Ethipoia. (Photo: Korosh Khalili)

Khalili continues on

In Addis Abba, Khalili worked with the University of Toronto-affiliated TAAAC (Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration) and was co-tasked with organizing a fellowship training curriculum for radiologists at the Black Lion Hospital.

While there, he started the first subspecialized training fellowship in Abdominal Imaging, recruiting two eager Ethiopian Fellows. Before long, Khalili had introduced, taught and observed both Fellows complete their first imaging-guided biopsies of the kidney and liver. This was a huge leap forward, as previously biopsies at the Black Lion Hospital were either performed through surgery or by feel.

Now, one year later, the Fellows are reaching the end of their program in abdominal imaging, with six months to go in the two-year-program. 

Khalili reviews a patient’s scan with two Ethiopian Abdominal Imaging Fellows. (Photo: Dr. Korosh Khalili)

Looking ahead

Recently, Khalili and his team of dedicated volunteers acquired seven ultrasound machines (four purchased, three donated) for donation to the Addis Ababa University. In collaboration with a local organization, they are arranging for the machines to arrive by mid-September. They are also working to acquire additional equipment to ship with the scanners, such as probes and gel. 

TAAAC's impact continues to grow with plans for a new fellowship in cardiovascular-thoracic imaging. They have also acquired grant funding to start an interventional radiology program at the Black Lion Hospital. While still in the early stages of planning this project, Khalili is recruiting interventional radiologists and nurses to help organize the training.

Always in need of help

The search continues for volunteer allied imaging professionals to join TAAAC's training efforts in Addis Ababa. 

"We targeted MRI, CT, and ultrasound technologists as well as interventional nurses," explained Khalili. "The idea is for the volunteers to formally train their Ethiopian counterparts, especially since there will be new CT and MRI scanners installed at the Tikur Anbessa (Black Lion) Specialized Hospital."

To raise funds for TAAAC, Khalili will be putting together the TAAAC 2014 calendar very soon. Money raised through the sale of the calendars will be directed towards TAAAC's on-going efforts. This year's theme is "Children of Ethiopia". 

If you are interested in donating to Khalili and TAAAC's cause, refer to the Dr. Mehrangiz Ashtari memorial fund through the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.

To learn more about volunteering opportunities, email: Korosh.Khalili@uhn.ca.

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