In our very midst is a quiet, unassuming man who contributes to and improves our country, community, and the world. That man is Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a neurological surgeon at Hartford Hospital who graduated from our own University of Connecticut.
We can all thank him for his service to our country as a Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate. Suffield residents are certainly grateful for his service to our community as a past president and current board member for the Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Association. Worldwide medical professionals appreciate the knowledge they receive at his annual hands-on spine course at the Cleveland Clinic. In Lima, Peru, the people helped by Dr. Wakefield are surely thankful to have their lives changed.
Dr. Wakefield makes annual trips to Lima’s Carrion Hospital as part of the Dreaming & Working Together (D&WT) non-profit organization. It all started in 2006 with him and another doctor traveling to Lima to perform spine and plastic surgeries on individuals unable to afford such care. Fast forward to 2019 and the team’s grown to 24 people, including four University of Hartford students as part of their training. Services expanded to include post-operative spine care, a spinal cord injury program, and an amputee program. In April 2019, the team distributed nearly 100 prostheses, provided hours of physical, occupational, and pediatric therapies, and delivered numerous educational seminars.
Dr. Wakefield performs 10-12 spine and brain surgeries each week he is in Lima. The supplies he brings enable surgeries where the equipment cost and availability is beyond the reach of many. Injuries he sees include those resulting from land mines. He tells a story of a patient with a broken back who had to wait seven months for his visit to perform a surgery that enabled him to walk again. He empowers local medical professionals through a residency training program for Neurosurgical and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Dr. Wakefield has reached the point where he now sees attending physicians who were once residents in his program.
D&WT team members pay their own travel expenses and sometimes for supplies. Fundraising for other expenses occurs twice a year, the next event being a Hartford Yard Goats game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on August 2. Partners who have provided essential medical supplies, prostheses and rehabilitation supplies for therapy and function include Hartford Hospital Rehabilitation Network, Hanger Clinic, and DePuy Synthes.
Of all his accomplishments, I’d guess his favorite would be his family. His wife, Dr. Eva Ceranowicz, is a veterinarian at Bloomfield Animal Hospital. She was the 2013 Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association Veterinarian of the Year. Eva is also a past president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Their son, Zachary, is a bright and engaging young man. He truly has a family of which to be proud.