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 Comments or suggestions about our newsletter?  Contact Editor, Helen Akinc.   

Message from the President    PresidentMessage 


In the past two months, 36 professionals have traveled with Kybele into hospitals within four countries. We are frequently met with unforeseen challenges, language barriers and cultural differences. It is not easy and sometimes we don't get it right. But we don't give up. Another amazing feature is how our teams, often complete strangers, soon band together like family, supporting one another through frustration, joy, tears and laughter. I am continuously awed by the caring professionalism and commitment of the individuals that make up our teams. I appreciate every one of our volunteers, who take the challenge beyond the familiar to improve the lives of mothers and babies.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who knows great enthusiasm, who spends himself  

in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows victory but if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."  -  

Theodore Roosevelt 


Please know how grateful we are for your service, sacrifices, and generosity.



Medge Owen Sig  

Medge D. Owen, M.D.

President, Kybele, Inc.

Professor Obstetric Anesthesia

Director of Maternal and Infant Global Health Programs

Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Phone:  336.718.8278     





From the Eyes of the Wake Forest University Film Team...   FilmTeam          

Kybele has been fortunate to be able to partner with a film team from Wake Forest University, comprised of graduate students in the documentary film program. They are doing their team project on Kybele and traveled to Ghana twice this fall to work. Read on for their insights. 
Wake Forest University Film Team Members meet with rural community members to learn women's perspectives on why or why not they would choose to seek hospital care for childbirth.


Behind the Camera: Walidah Muhammad, Joe Jowers, and Kathi Barnwell


The experience of traveling to Ghana was overwhelming in so many wonderful and deeply felt ways. Each member or our team had a personal reason for wanting to visit Ghana before we entered film school, heard about Kybele or met Medge Owen. I can confidently say that each of our worlds were altered by the experience. As documentary filmmakers, looking and listening are the primary tools of our trade and using the camera and microphone to translate our impressions is the skill we continually develop. Walidah Muhummad, Kathi Barnwell and myself, Joe Jowers are graduate students at Wake Forest University working on our thesis film and videos that support Kybele. Our first of two trips started on Sept 21st of this year.


Each morning we traveled from the guest house to Ridge Hospital in the big blue Ghanaian Health Service bus.  The bus's big windows framed an assault of new visual information.  The brilliant sun on the sea, the colorful fishing boats, the smoke from burning trash, the silhouetted bodies of vendors, joggers, fishermen, and unbelievable variety of goods balanced on people's heads.


The urgency of Kybele's mission was underscored in the first week we were at Ridge.  That week at least 4 infants in the NICU died.  Then there was the breakthrough; the expansion of the NICU was approved and with the assistance and support of Kybele the room will be enlarged.


It would be impossible to pick one event or picture that distills the experience of those two weeks.  I'm sure that each of us could pick several peak moments!  One of the great memories was being greeted in a small village by 100 or so people waiting to share their experiences and offer advice to uncover the reasons why Ghanian women can be reluctant to give birth in hospitals and clinics.  Why?  That question will be addressed by our documentary when it is completed and screened in May 2014.


L:  Wake Forest Film Team meets with local school children. 
R:  Kathi Barnhill, Walidah Muhummad and Medge Owen visit a local school community.

TEACHING IN SERBIA:  Serbian Program Overview - Recent Trips and Future Plans Serbia

From Serbia Team Trip on September 14 - 21, 2013

By Curtis Baysinger  and Ivan Velickovic

Dr. Ivan Velickovic assists with spinal anesthesia. 

This is the proposal for the work that will be done at Klinika za Ginekologiju i  Akuserstvo - a women's hospital that is a part of the Klinicki Centrar Health Care System in Novi Sad, Serbia. The medical center is an approximately a 300 - bed facility which provides both inpatient and outpatient primary obstetrical, gynecology, and neonatal services for the city of Novi Sad.  This teaching hospital is the only maternity hospital in Novi Sad and is the high risk referral center for the surrounding area. There are approximately 6,500 deliveries per year in this facility and there are numerous laparoscopic and open gynecological procedures that are performed in the two main operating rooms, along with operative cesarean deliveries. The cesarean delivery rate is approximately 30% and rising. Kybele teams visited the facility in September 2012 and then again in September of 2013.  

Teaching neonatal resuscitation techniques






We demonstrated about 30-35 spinal anesthetics for cesarean delivery for both elective and emergency procedures during both visits. During the 2013 fall trip, Dr. Lawrence Fourdour, a neonatologist from Beth Israel Hospital, New York, taught approximately thirty people neonatal resuscitation training.  Also, we introduced and demonstrated the use of neuraxial opioids for post cesarean pain relief following spinal anesthesia.  We introduced a multimodal post cesarean section and pain relief model that was well received.  We discussed the idea of establishing a recovery room for postoperative care and during our second visit we toured the space that was being built for the recovery room.  Our host, Dr. Borislava Pujic is not the section head, but the section head is equally in support of Kybele.  One of the elements for success in the Kybele model is having such a champion in the host facility and Dr. Pujic certainly is that.   READ ON. 

TEACHING IN VIETNAM:  Vietnam Program Recent Trip Overview      Vietnam    

From Vietnam Team Trip on October 24 - November 3, 2013

Article by Marge Sedensky, MD

Dr. Marge Sedensky and Dr. Medge Owen with Dr. Vu Van Kim Long, chairman of the department of anesthesiology at Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacology.

A Kybele team of anesthesiologists, labor nurses, and an obstetrician from different cities in the US traveled to Can Tho in the Mekong delta of Vietnam this past week.  As a group they visited many different medical centers within the city, including both very busy city hospitals as well as a private practice maternity hospital.  In addition they traveled to a provincial hospital outside of Can Tho, visited the major pediatric hospital, and met with administrative leaders at multiple different levels of the health care system in the region.  Neonatal resuscitation with hands on teaching using manikins was a major project, with hundreds of students receiving instruction from Kybele.  First instruction in LEEP techniques to obstetricians was also a significant focus, as well as instruction in regional anesthesia.  Possibilities for future collaborations are underway,with substantial interest on the part of the local doctors for a return of a Kybele team.


 Left  Dr. Rosalie Truong lectures.  Right:  Dr. Melvin Seid assists with surgery. 

TEACHING IN ARMENIA:  Armenia Program Recent Trip Overview  Armenia       


Compiled highlights from a report by Dr. Gordon Yuill. 

The Kybele Armenia team returned to Yerevan on October 5-12, 2013 to help lead a national conference in Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy along with the Committee for European Education in Anaesthesiology, the Armenian Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care and the Armenian School of Regional Anaesthesia.  Approximately 80 participants attended the 2-day conference with the whole of the second day devoted to the Kybele Team.  Lectures were given on Analgesia for labour, complications of regional techniques, updates on regional techniques for caesarean section, updates on obstetric sepsis, evidence for simulator based training and management of postpartum haemorrhage.  Simultaneous translation service was provided.

Following the conference Kybele split into two teams that traveled to the Gyumri region and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR).  During these visits the Kybele team was able to diagnose equipment problems and assist with the replacement of an anaesthetic machine that was not working, demonstrate spinal techniques on several patients having cesarean sections, and have good and open discussions with the anaesthetists, whose knowledge and theory was good.  The equipment available limited both practice and confidence and culminated in the Kybele team running a seminar/interactive session on the management of pre-eclampsia and difficult airway management.

Team Co-Leader, Dr. Gordon Yuill had the opportunity to meet with the NKR Minister of Health to introduce Kybele's work and to discuss how we can help with implementing standards, protocols, and guidelines which was very positively received. 

In 2010, host physician Dr. Ashot Amroyan and Kybele Team Leader Lisa Councilman submitted a proposal for a 5-year commitment to provide an annual team visit to Armenia.  We have returned in 2012 and 2013 and started the process of of writing national standards, guidelines, and protocols.  In 2014 and 2015, Kybele desires to expand our visits with larger, more diverse teams to current and additional regions of the country.    

Grants and Fundraising Update GrantsUpdate          

Update by Erin Pfeiffer and Helen Akinc  


One of the most important and time-consuming behind-the-scenes Kybele activities is fund-raising, particularly searching out for and applying for grants to support our work. In the current economic environment, grants are especially competitive. If an organization is awarded a grant, the funds are usually restricted to very specific purposes (e.g., medical equipment to be used in Accra for an operating room). As a result, it is important for Kybele to apply for different types of grants to be able to support a variety of our program needs. Please read on to learn about some of our recent efforts in this area.

  • Kybele applied for a $20,000 grant extension from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), which has been a generous funder of Kybele. The grant would fund current program activities in Ghana, Armenia, Serbia, and Vietnam.  
  • We applied for a competitive grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities to fund the Center of Excellence expansion project in Ghana, which would complement the CIFF-PATH project. Kybele was unfortunately not chosen as one of only 13 proposals from the 175 submitted to make it to the second round, but we were encouraged to apply again next year.  
  • Finally, we just submitted a small grants application to the Winston-Salem Foundation for $1,000 to support the costs of Kybele's upcoming Team Leader Summit to be held in Winston-Salem in February, 2014.

If you are aware of grant opportunities that could support Kybele's work, please pass them along to Erin Pfeiffer, our Kybele grantwriter. She can be reached at

Reflections on Trip to Ridge Regional Hospital by Dupe Akinola*Dupe
 L to R:  Dr. Dupe Akinola (Kybele Team member) and
Dr. Nana Sereboe; Head - Dept. of Pediatrics,
Ridge Regional Hospital, Ghana
I had the opportunity to visit the Ridge Regional Hospital, Accra, Ghana with the Kybele team  in September 2013. This was my second trip with Kybele but my first visit to Ridge Regional Hospital. The purpose of my trip was to observe, provide education and foster an ongoing relationship with the staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

During this 5 day visit, it was apparent to me that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Ridge was staffed with compassionate medical and nursing personnel who could function better if provided with additional training  through a physician/nurse champion.


The interplay between limited resources for the provision of basic care to the sick newborns and limited knowledge of Best Practices in Neonatal Care resulted in preventable deaths in the NICU and hospital associated neonatal morbidities. There was a neonatal death on each day of my visit to the Hospital.


I returned to the US with mixed feelings; a feeling of gratitude for being in a society with abundant resources where we strive to promote excellence in neonatal care through evidence based medicine;  a feeling of sadness for those babies who may not have died if their society had more resources and if they had been treated based on best practices;  and a feeling of excitement and hope  in the positive impact  which a sustainable collaboration between Kybele and the NICU will have on reducing neonatal death at Ridge Hospital, Ghana.


*Dr. Dupe Akinola is an Assistant Professor of Neonatology at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Three extremely premature infants sharing an incubator at Ridge Regional Hospital NICU.

Interested in submitting a story for the
next Kybele Newsletter?

Contact newsletter editor, Helen Akinc.

Kybele Partners with Delta Airlines
  SkyBonus® ProgramDelta

Kybele is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Delta Airlines in the SkyBonus® program.  The SkyBonus program allows small businesses and organizations who do not benefit from corporate travel rates and agreements to earn points on flights with Delta Airlines, Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, AlItalia, and Virgin Atlantic.


These accumulated points can be redeemed for future domestic and international flights on Delta.  Travelers will still earn their own frequent flyer miles (SkyMiles) based on mileage flown, while at the same time Kybele will earn SkyBonus points based on the dollar amount of the fare and class of service flown.

Kybele's Delta SkyBonus number is US0038312.

This SkyBonus number is not limited to Kybele volunteer travel, it can be used for personal and/or business travel as long as the ticket was not purchased under a corporate discount agreement or an award ticket.   Enlisting the help of friends and family will help us earn free travel faster.

Kybele's Delta Skybonus number can be added to tickets in several ways depending on method of purchase: 


A.    Tickets purchased on Delta's website:

  • Enter Delta SkyBonus number US0038312 in the Delta SkyBonus number field just below passenger name during check out.
  • If you are a SkyMiles member, please save this number to your profile and it will automatically be entered every time you purchase a ticket on This can be found on the My Profile page under the flight preferences tab.  Enter US0038312 where you see SkyBonus Loyalty #.

B.    Tickets purchased at Delta Reservations

       (phone or airport):

  • Advise agent to add Delta SkyBonus number US0038312 to the ticket (even if you have it saved in your SkyMiles profile).

C.    Tickets purchased from a travel agent:

  • Advise travel agent to add Delta SkyBonus number US0038312 in the tour operator field on your ticket   
D.    Tickets purchased from online travel agency
       (Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.)

  • The Delta SkyBonus number cannot be added to these tickets at the time of purchase.  Please email your itinerary with ticket number to and we will be able to enter the tickets manually on the SkyBonus website.

For all other tickets, or any tickets in which you have forgotten to add the SkyBonus number at the time of purchase,  please email your itinerary with ticket number to and we will be able to enter the tickets manually on the SkyBonus website.  We can also retroactively enter old tickets (up to 12 months old).  


Kybele will redeem these points for award tickets to bring practitioners from host countries to the US as well as to provide travel for Kybele team leader summits.

We Thank The Following for Their Support    support 

Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology  |  The Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association     
The International Association for the Study of Pain  |   World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists  | The Lacy Foundation 

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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.




DECEMBER 2nd & 3rd

9:00am - 4:00pm 

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 

Ronald George, MD 

Shannon Koontz 

Virgil Manica, MD

Yemi Olufolabi, MD

Rohit Ramaswamy, PhD  

Michael Rieker, CRNA

Melvin Seid, MD    

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.
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.   3524 Yadkinville Road #124 Winston-Salem, NC 27106