International Surgical Foundation

Welcome to the International Surgical Foundation.

International Surgical Foundation is a non-profit Christian based charity founded out of a need to provide to the impoverished population of the Dominican Republic and surrounding areas, the very best in surgical treatment of all spine disorders and to advance the education and surgical skills of local surgeons interested in giving back to their community.

ISF is the collaboration of many dedicated professionals, who witness first hand the extreme poverty resulting in profound neglect of many spine related problems. This has left many within the population suffering from major neurologic disorders which could have been prevented with proper clinical follow up. In Sept 2010, 6 members of one of Scottsdale Healthcare scoliosis surgical team was invited as the first spine team to support the Surgical Humanitarian Mission co-sponsored by Fundación HOMS Santiago, Dominican Republic.  Dominican Republic shares the same land mass with Haiti.  This island nation (Haiti) was devastated by a major earthquake thus worsening their poverty.  Haiti has added to the issues facing Dominican Republic as their population is also seeking good health care and resources.

There are many countries all over the world who’s poverty dictates access to medical care, leaving in its wake many of their citizens profoundly disabled, and unable to provide for themselves or their families.  ISF’s long term goal is to expand its operation to other countries within the Caribbean and Central America. It was the surgical mission to Santiago, Dominican Republic, that sparked the interest of this highly trained group of medical professionals in creating this non-profit organization in an effort to prevent life and limb threatening conditions from plaguing the under-served men, women, and children in the Caribbean and South America. Our dedication to the care and treatment of those with spine related issues has extended well beyond the patients of Arizona.  Our dream to provide much needed spine related surgical services and education for local healthcare providers, to a population whose access to treatment and health care is profoundly limited due to their economics, has become a reality through the development of this foundation.  


Emergency Humanitarian Need

Flight for Her LIFE – Bring Yasmeli to the United Statesyasmeliguzman2-57e6fdae50c62_r

URGENT: Funds are urgently needed to provide medical transportation for 13-year old Yasmeli Guzman from the Dominican Republic to HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea in Arizona for LIFE-SAVING surgery. We are requesting your help on a humanitarian emergency basis to help save Yasmeli’s life. Without the help of a modern facility, she will likely die from meningitis or a brain herniation due to a rare and yet normally correctable complications of spinal surgery.   We urgently need to get Yasmeli to the United States via Medical Air Transport.

Surgery and Hospitalization -$350,000 – $400,000

Medical Air Transport – $32,000

Ambulance Transportation, Housing and Food in Arizona  – $7,500

2 Weeks of Rehabilitation – $6,900


In 2010 we met a beautiful child by the name of Yasmeli who fueled our commitment to create International Surgical Foundation. She at the time was 7 years old and too young to have a definitive scoliosis surgery for her 69-degree curve. By 10 years of age in 2013, her curve had increased to 103 degrees. Multiple attempts were made to bring her to the United States in 2013 and 2015 but we were unable to find a hospital that would accept her on a humanitarian basis. By 2015, her curve had progressed to 129 degrees and her pulmonary function had declined. It was clear that waiting was no longer an option and that her progressive juvenile onset scoliosis would ultimately limit her function and shorten her life.

dominican-isf-feb2016103On September 2nd, 2016, we moved forward with surgery at a government run public hospital in the Santo Domingo, the only facility that was available at the time.  We were unaware of the issues that would befall us at a facility that receives almost all of the trauma patients for the region yet suffered with restricted resources to maintain basic infection control protocols, consistent imaging capabilities, and dedicated nursing care.

On the 4th day after surgery, Yasmeli developed a late onset persistent cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leak.  She was promptly returned to surgery after which she did well for only a short period of time, but would again leak CSF and was eventually diagnosed with a hospital acquired infection and CSF leak.  The ISF team spent days prior to each surgery trying to obtain a CT-myelogram which would identify the source of the leak quickly but it is not available at any of the hospitals in Santo Domingo.

dominican-isf-feb2016099While on a 2-week bed rest protocol, five days after the second attempt to repair the CSF leak under suboptimal conditions, she developed another CSF leak on Friday September 23rd.  Yasmeli’s life was threatened, and was at risk of dying if the leak was not repaired. At a U.S. facility, her problem can be quickly corrected and will afford her a shorted hospitalization and an improved survival prospect.  She was transfered to Childrens Hospital of Phoenix where she underwent surgery again, and the lumbar drain was very helpful in controlling the leak as the source was still not obvious. The infection is under control now and she is recovering well.  Now the issue that remains is the cost to the family and we still need your support.

Please help Yasmeli by donating toward the cost of medical transportation to Arizona, and the modern technology which were not available in her country that has now saved her life.

Thank you in advance for your generous donation and may God bless you and save Yasmeli.


New Facility 2015-2016

ISF have negotiated a working relationship with two hospitals in Santo Domingo and hope to start a surgical week in either or both locations in 2016.  We are excited about starting our humanitarian efforts again after a one year reorganization and I pray you will join us as we move forward in a different city.  Our first clinic is scheduled for September 2015 and we will likely conduct a total of 3-4 clinics before the surgical week.  There are a number of children who were scheduled for surgery at HOMS hospital at the time they had to cut back on their services, and they will be re-evaluated and treated first.

We are also excited about the possibility of expanding our efforts into the island nation of Jamaica.  ISF is looking at logistics in moving equipment and supplies to another country, hospital infrastructure, operating room equipment, intensive care unit supplies and secure storage requirements.

We will begin to update the website with new information as developments occur.

Thank you for your support

Dr. Pitt