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Message from the President  PresidentMessage 


We have just returned from Seattle, Washington where Kybele competed in Round Two of the Gates Foundation's Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge Grant Competition. Kybele was one of 65 finalists selected from over 500 applications from around the world. Unfortunately, we were not chosen as one of the 15 winners but we are privileged to have made it that far on our first attempt! I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and votes in the People's Choice Award.


The three day event offered tremendous opportunities for networking. There was genuine interest in our unique approach in improving service delivery capacity in low-resource settings. Please click here to see our poster presentation. I wish to thank Kimber Whanger and Sebnem Ucer, our wonderful, dedicated staff, for their hard work in preparing various aspects of the grant and poster presentation.


In other news, Gordon Yuill and Simon Miller, both from the UK, have just returned from leading a very successful two week program in Armenia. They coordinated a two day symposium attended by physicians from around Armenia. Their nine member team worked in selected hospitals in Yerevan, the capital city, and in several other regions of the country. Please read more in the article within this newsletter.  Also, I wish to thank Dr. Ashot Amroyan, our local host in Armenia, for all his efforts and preparation to make the program a tremendous success.

Rohit Ramaswamy (who presented the Kybele model) and
Medge Owen pose in front of the Kybele poster at the
Gates Competition.


Please be sure to read about what is happening in Romania, another Kybele program site. Drs. Virgil Manica (TUFTS) and Ashraf Habib (Duke), conducted hospital training and spoke at two national conferences. Their visit was featured on television and in the newspaper. Please read about the steady improvements in Romania resulting from Dr. Manica's continued passion and efforts.


We have an upcoming site visit to Serbia in August being led by Drs. Ivan Velickovic (SUNY), Curtis Baysinger (Vanderbilt) and Melvin Seid (Lyndhurst OBYGN, Winston-Salem) that will be featured in the next newsletter, as well as updates on our work in Ghana. Until then, please consider joining our "50 at 50" campaign by becoming a monthly donor for Kybele. We depend on this support to continue our work that improves birth experiences and safety for pregnant women and newborns around the world.


Enjoy the rest of your summer!   

Medge Owen Sig  

Medge Owen, President

Kybele, Inc.  






Message from the President


50@50 Campaign Update


Romania Program


Armenia Program


WFSA Grant


SOAP 2012 Conference



Upcoming Programs


Kudos & News Bits





ROMANIA - Kybele Team Has Another Successful Visit in May 2012    Romania   

Romania Collage - May 2012
1.  Dr. Habib teaching spinal anesthesia in Suceava.  2.  Dr. Habib, obstetrician and happy mom and baby after epidural.  3.  Drs. Habib and Manical in Sinaia SRATI congress.  4.  Dr. Manica with happy mom and baby 40 minutes after labor CSE.  5.  L to R: Dr. Habib, Dr. Stanescu, Dr. Coca, and Dr. Manica at Sucevita monastery.  6.  Dr. Manica teaching labor CSE at 7 cm dilation.
Article by Virgil Manica and Ashraf Habib.  Photos by Virgil Manica.
A Kybele team consisting of Drs. Virgil Manica and Ashraf Habib returned to Romania in May 2012. The visit started by participating in the annual SRATI (Romanian Society of Anesthesia and Intensive Care) congress in Sinaia, where both Drs. Manica and Habib gave refresher course lectures in the Obstetric Anesthesia session, which was very well attended and received.


This was followed by a visit to the County Hospital in Suceava where four days were spent performing hands-on teaching in the operating room and labor and delivery suite. The team demonstrated modern neuraxial anesthetic techniques and helped establish protocols for the management of cesarean delivery under neuraxial anesthesia.

Romania Newspaper Collage
Articles about the Kybele Romania program from Monitorul de Suceava and Crai Nou Suceava newspapers

The team emphasized the importance of communication between obstetricians and anesthesiologists and of regular mortality and morbidity sessions. The visit attracted media attention with numerous newspapers, local TV and radio stations highlighting the efforts to introduce modern obstetric anesthesia in Suceava. A meeting with local patients was also very informative and successful.


Following the work in Suceava, the team attended an Obstetricians Congress in Iasi, where Dr. Manica lectured on anesthetic implications for IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction). The team was also informed that previous Kybele efforts in Iasi resulted in an increase in the use of spinal anesthesia for cesarean delivery from 19 % to over 78 % currently.  Overall the trip was very successful and promises to much fruit with regards to the practice of obstetric anesthesia in Suceava.


Dr Manica has also made a 2-day site visit to the County Hospital in Constanta, which will be followed by a longer visit for a hands-on teaching workshop of modern obstetric anesthesia techniques in September this year.   


WFSA Grant   WFSA  

WFSA Logo 

Kybele thanks the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) Education Committee for its generosity in providing Kybele funds to support both the Ghana and Armenia projects. This support comes at a time when we really need it to sustain the progress we are achieving.  We are most grateful, WFSA!

Kybele Attends SOAP Conference 2012    SOAP  

Article by Kimber Whanger Kybele was delighted to once again attend the annual Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) conference held the first week in May in beautiful Monterrey, California. This annual conference brings together hundreds of obstetric anesthesiologists and residents from across the US, Canada and abroad to learn the latest developments and to network with colleagues and specialists in the field. Kybele is proud to be supported by the SOAP organization and many of our program participants are also SOAP members. It is a chance for Kybele to reunite with our friends and supporters and to also spread the word about our work. 
The Kybele merchandise table in Monterrey.  Photo courtesy of SOAP. 

Each year for the past 6+ years, Kybele has been given the opportunity to display our Kybele merchandise store during the SOAP conference. Attendees enjoyed perusing our newest merchandise and sales were brisk as usual. It always seems that the "Kybele table" is the place to hang out at the SOAP conference. This year we premiered our "50@50 Campaign" with a fun prize wheel. Individuals who became monthly supporters spun the "Wheel of Fortune" and received donated prizes, which added to the fun atmosphere. Many attendees commented about missing the Kybele dinner, which we have had in past years. We're happy to announce that we will once again hold our Kybele Dinner fundraiser at the 2013 SOAP conference in Puerto Rico. SOAP is an important partner to Kybele and we are always grateful for their support. We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2013.

ARMENIA:  Significant Changes Found Since Last Visit  Armenia  

1 & 2. Demonstrating spinal anesthesia in the operating room.  3. The 9 member Kybele Team with local hosts.  4. Small group teaching session.

Story and Photos by Simon Millar and Gordon Yuill.   

Armenia is a landlocked, mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia is a democratic nation-state with an ancient and historic cultural heritage. The Kingdom of Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its religion in the early years of the 4th century, reputedly 301 AD. Armenians also have their own unique alphabet invented by Mesrob Mashtots in 406 AD. The last thirty years have seen many woes in the country, with 25,000 people losing their lives in the devastating earthquake in 1988 in the region of Gyumri. Much of that rebuilding was left unfinished due to the turbulence as the country left the Soviet Union in 1991 and became engulfed in a regional war for the next two years. Many of the people we worked with began their careers in this turmoil. Recovery has been a long slow process.

Armenian countryside and church.


Following on from our visits in 2006 and 2010 we met again with our local champion Dr Ashot Amroyan. He leads the anesthesia service for the Maternity unit at Shengavit hospital, one of the four major hospitals in the Capital city Yerevan. Our co-host this time was Dr Emil Vadapatyan, an airway expert based at the Kanaker Zeytun Unit. As always the warmth and enthusiasm were overwhelming. Our team of nine was a multinational group of two OBs, a neonatologist and six anesthesiologists. Despite challenges, there are significant improvements and the Armenian government works hard to provide access to healthcare, including free maternity care


Our visit began with a two day conference. Both days had a good turnout of an attentive audience of neonatologists, obstetricians, anesthesiologists and trainees from these specialties. We presented the state of the art for peri-partum care. There was no need to encourage debate as the delegates participated fully. The hunger for knowledge is clear, the neonatal session ran to three times its allocated time. This time for the first time For the first time during this visit, Dr Gill Hilton conducted simulator sessions for emergency care. This was well received and was a popular session running in parallel with the presentations.


Our team then spent the first week visiting four maternity units in the city. There appears to be much progress, especially in the larger units. We demonstrated regional techniques for pain relief and for cesarean section; we also could guide our colleagues in their own practice through observation and advice. We took the opportunity to reinforce the teaching from the conference again tackling the largest causes of maternal mortality: hemorrhage and preeclampsia. There is some resistancetowards analgesia with many doctors believingthat becausewomen have managed till now, why interfere in the natural process. Epidural rates of up to 30% where this service is available suggest that women are voting with their feet and that the other units should take notice. The economic improvement has been reflected in improved levels of equipment and drugs.


Unfortunately, airway misfortunes still occur, and we used the opportunity to point out from our own experience and history the reduction in deaths due to anesthesia in our own countries over the years. This is a direct objective, reducing mortality by avoiding general anesthesia. We will also look at airway training as our collaboration develops.  The primacy of safety as a health care priority has not yet become mainstream in the medical culture.  Once safety becomes a key priority, cause analysis and accurate reporting will follow and at  that point, system change can take place.


As part of tackling quality of care and safety we met with the National Armenian Association of Anesthesiologists to begin the process of developing national guidelines for patient care with a particular focus on neuraxial anesthesia and maternity services. By providing a framework that states what is the minimum administrators and clinicians will be encouraged to demonstrate that they are moving towards excellence.


Our second week saw the team split in two to visit the smaller hospitals in the regions. Each of the teams was accompanied by one of our local champions, becoming part of the team, demonstrating and teaching as one of us.

Gordon Quote

Reflections on My Time with KybeleLouisa

Article by Louisa Oates.

Louisa Oates

Kybele, Inc has changed my understanding of medicine, patient care and organization. I first contacted founder, Dr. Medge Owen when searching for a location to serve during the Wake Forest Non-Profit Pro Humanitate internship the summer before my senior year. Interested in medicine and non-profits, I found Kybele intriguing and wanted to know more. Unbeknownst to me, through Kybele, I would find a new interest in maternal health, professional and personal mentors, and an incredible field of work. In August 2012, I will begin Georgia Baptist School of Nursing at Mercer University and as a result will be leaving my work with Kybele. 


Kybele is a unique organization. Kybele is the labor and love of  volunteers and few staff members-working eagerly towards a cause they  fully believe in. After attending a Kybele program to Ghana in May 2011,  I was touched by the constant brainstorming and troubleshooting  conducted on the ground by participants. READ MORE 

Upcoming Program Updates programs

SERBIA - August 31 - September 8, 2012 

Kybele, led by Ivan Velickovic, has scheduled a site visit/small team trip to Serbia this year. This trip is full. 


VIETNAM - November 2012 

Plans are underway for a site visit to Vietnam tentatively in November.  This trip is full. 


GHANA - September 2012 | Jan 2013

Contact team leader Dr. Yemi Olufolabi if you are a returning participant.


ARMENIA - October 5 - 19, 2013

Contact team leaders Simon Millar or Gordon Yuill if you are a returning participant to any program.   


EGYPT - 2013 

Several Kybele Team Members have been invited to participate as speakers and panel members of the 2013 All Africa Anesthesia Congress held on April 7-10 in Cairo.  This world-class event is organized by Africa Regional section of the World Federation of Anesthesia Societies (WFSA) in collaboration with the Egyptian Society of Anesthesiologists (EgSA).  The congress will include speakers from the USA, UK, Canada, and Africa who will provide the latest tips and updates on hot topics in Anesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Management.

If you have any questions about upcoming programs, you may contact Program Coordinator, Lynn Snyder.

Kudos and News Bits  NewsBits  

  • Kybele is honored to receive another 3 year commitment for continued financial support from the Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association (OAA) in the UK.  Formed in 1969 with a current membership of over 2,450, the OAA provides both education and training for anaesthetists and other practioners in the UK and overseas and a resource for women seeking information about pain relief in labor and anaesthesia for C-Section.  Thank you OAA for your continued support. 
    Michael Rieker
  • Kybele would like to welcome Sung Min Kim to the organization as our volunteer Program Intern. 
    Originally from Seoul, Korea, Ms Kim is a 2012 graduate of Wake Forest University with a pre-med degree and was a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and a student advisor. Sung will begin working with Kybele as a program intern in August 2012. As part of her interest in healthcare in rural areas, she has recently traveled to Uganda and Peru to study maternal and neonatal care and parasites.   
  • If you would like to nominate a person or person(s) for the Board of Directors or would like more information about Board or Committee Membership, please contact a board or staff member.       
  • Michael Rieker, DNP, CRNA (Wake Forest University) recently spoke about Kybele programs at the June 2012 World Congress for Nurse Anesthetists in Ljubjana, Slovenia.  See photo above. 

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 Overview of Our Work 

 Kybele merchandise is on display at various events in the Winston-Salem, NC area.  Contact us if you are interested in purchasing merchandise or have an event that is appropriate for us to display/sell our items.   


Kybele bracelets
Kybele Bracelets from
Turkey and Ghana

Board of Directors

Medge Owen, MD

President & Founder

Helen Akinc  

VP Strategy & Newsletter Editor  

Margaret Sedensky, MD 

VP Program Development

Frank James, MD 


Holly Muir, MD


Karen Bartoletti 

Brittany Clyne, MD

Ronald George, MD 

Thomas Ivester, MD

Shannon Koontz 

Virgil Manica, MD

Yemi Olufolabi, MD

Rohit Ramaswamy, PhD  

Michael Rieker, CRNA  

Robin Sizemore

Leigh Stanfield 


Kybele, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 humanitarian organization dedicated to improving childbirth safety worldwide through educational partnerships. The role of Kybele is to bring professional medical teams into host countries, to work alongside doctors and nurses in their home hospitals, to improve healthcare standards. Kybele volunteers provide hands-on training in medical techniques during the actual care of patients in labor wards and in operating rooms. Kybele volunteers model teamwork and compassion in real life and death situations, sharing knowledge when it matters the most.
Kybele Logo 2   3524 Yadkinville Road #124 Winston-Salem, NC 27106