Sunday, February 2, 2020


Since my son-in-law was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile duct), I have done quite a bit of research into this very rare cancer and its treatment.  My oldest daughter mentioned that their surgeon, Dr. Chad Ball, is the top surgeon in Canada for this type of cancer, and I looked him up and found that he is also the youngest head trauma surgeon in Canada as well as specializing in hepatobiliary and pancreatic oncology.  He is associate professor of surgery and oncology at the University of Calgary and practices Hepatobiliary, Pancreas, Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. According to one of his bios, being a trauma surgeon wasn't enough to keep him busy and interested, so he also pursued the cancer niche which brought him into my son-in-law's orbit. He has an alphabet soup of initials after his name: MD, MSC, FRCSC, and FACS, is an international speaker on surgical and resuscitation topics, and his research areas of interest encompass clinical injury care, hybrid operating environments, parabolic flight surgery, randomized controlled trials within HPB surgery, and national surgical manpower analyses.  
According to Catherine and Ray, when they met with him, he told them that he has done thousands of the surgeries that he proposes to do on Ray, and that Ray's age works in his favor, although Dr. Ball's oldest patient was 96 and is now 103!
I watched a video of Dr. Ball giving a talk on trauma, in which he said that the RAPTOR Suite in Calgary was the first one in the world; it is a hybrid unit designed for interventional radiology and operative interventions. RAPTOR is an acronym for Resuscitation, Angiography, Percutaneous Techniques and Repair.
It combines four previously disparate units in one place which are critical in treating severely injured trauma victims. It cost $10 million which was raised with a partnership of private and public fundraising. He also commented that among Canadians under 45--and in fact people around the world under that age, injury or trauma are responsible for more deaths than all other causes combined. He said that in aerospace, CT or Xray machines can't be used because they are too heavy, but ultrasounds can and that ultrasound probes are now widely in use in many areas.  In addition, catheters that cost $2.49 can be used to give surgeons additional time to stop bleeding, and straws can give them time to deal with arteries and veins that need to be reconstructed. These low cost, low tech items can be used in hospitals in areas like South Africa's shanty towns to bring about results similar to hospitals from wealthier areas.  It is fascinating to see that Dr. Ball's interests range over a wide swath of areas from aerospace to medicine in poor areas. His training and expertise certainly give me a sense that Ray will be in good hands when he undergoes the surgery for his cancer.

Dr. Chad Ball

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