Dr. Carolina Escobar with Texas Oncology in Dallas specializes in bone marrow transplant, cancer care and hematology – the study of blood, blood-forming organs and blood diseases.
During her training at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, she met Dr. Gazi Zibari from Kurdistan.
“He was the founder of the first kidney and liver transplant unit in Iraq,” Escobar says. “Every year, he will go with a group of residents, fellows and other physicians that know him to Kurdistan and work in seeing patients, but also educating the doctors over there.”
Escobar was hesitant to travel to Iraq, so instead she set up a telemedicine platform the wouldn’t require much technology. That way she could communicate with the doctors in Kurdistan from Texas. She helped answer questions and educate doctors about hematology.
At the time, any patients needing a transplant would be sent to Jordan for the medical procedure. Escobar worked with the staff in Kurdistan to ensure patients had a good donor match and were prepared to make the journey to Jordan.
“Right now, we’re kind of in a pause with the project since ISIS became a priority,” she says. “At this time we’re just waiting for it to become a little more stable so we can restart.”
“In the future, the idea is to create a virtual hospital that we can not only work like one day a week, but we can help them constantly,” she says.
Escobar has expanded her telemedicine practice to Texas as well. She is able to help patients from all across the state, including Amarillo and El Paso.
“There’s always a concern with telemedicine – if you get the same service,” Escobar says. “But I can tell you that the satisfaction that the doctor from Amarillo had – especially the patients to be able to be in their local communities seeing the specialist from Dallas, not having to drive six hours, being able to be there surrounded by their family so they all can participate – was an amazing experience.”
“I’m fighting cancer on my own terms improving the coverage for cancer care – hopefully national and international – through telemedicine,” she says. “I feel very humble and very fortunate to be part of it.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.