Two US Neurosurgeons Perform Brain Surgeries on Children in Peru

Dr. Rahul Jandial and Dr. Mike Levy take their skills and donated hospital equipment to help save lives in third-world countries like Peru.
9:33 | 12/21/16

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Transcript for Two US Neurosurgeons Perform Brain Surgeries on Children in Peru
You're about to meet a dedicated team of doctors operating against the clock under sub optical conditions. Of course, performing brain surgery on children is already stressful, but spending your vacations doing it for free in developing countries, that's next level stuff. Their goal -- nothing short of a medical revolution. Reporter: A world away from the high-tech hospitals they're used to. This place is a trip, man. Reporter: Two American brain surgeons on an extraordinary mission. We learn an extraordinary skill. It can't be just for the rich. Reporter: Seven surgeries in just 48 hours. You are putting your best effort, but sometimes that's not good enough. Reporter: With children's lives in the balance, the stakes couldn't be higher. We first meet Dr. Raul at one of the premiere cancer centers in Los Angeles. A lot of stitches. Reporter: Why did you choose neurosurgery? I am still choosing neurosurgery. We're discovering science here. That's standard now in American centers. Reporter: A stark contrast from the focus of his upcoming mission. How does this hospital compare to where you go? It's a world of difference. I mean, we have every device and instrument and monitoring technique that's available in the world. And over there, they have to manage with very few resources. Hi there. Reporter: It's a grim reality that might discourage some but has only served to motivate him. Tomorrow we'll wake him up. Reporter: He created a foundation called inca and he's spent most of his spare time to treat children in developing countries. These are things that will get refurbished or throw away and they knew we were headed to Lima, so they decided to donate them. These are the delicate suctions that we use so you don't suck up brain. Reporter: His goal is to empower the local doctors to perform life-saving brain surgeries on their own. It's a charity hospital, services up to 2 million people in one of the poorest areas in Lima. This is for you, doctor. Reporter: When we first showed up here, I'm not sure I've been to a place where they're incomplete mud huts and buildings outside of a hospital. Just feels good that we're providing the real care for the people. Reporter: This is a passion shared by Dr. Mike levy children's hospital, San Diego. I like it here. Reporter: Why pediatric neurosurgery? It's the way to make the biggest impact. Giving a child in a country with less resources their full F facul faculties. Reporter: The poorest 30% of the population receives only 3.5% of all surgeries. This is all for you guys. This is for the hospital. Reporter: Those hand me down tools bring smiles here nothing is taken for granted. It's a huge help for a struggling hospital. Reporter: For the next four days, the doctors will work with this team of Peruvian neurosurgeons. Their first patient is Frederick. On the outside, he's a picture of a healthy toddler. But inside there's a ticking timebomb, a brain hemorrhage. Is it challenging to work with a team that you've never worked with before? We have an international language for neurosurgery. So having to yield old fashioned tricks like how high is it above the ear, counting centimeters, how far forward it is from the middle of your head. That's the way to triangulate this artery that exploded. Reporter: Frederick's surgery is a success. You were the only neurosurgeon here when you started. Dr. Victor has fought to build up the neurosurgery program for 30 years. Why a charity hospital and why not private practice? Translator: When I decided to become a doctor is to work for the people, the people in the poorest area. In the states neurosurgeons are in the 1% of income earners. Here neurosurgeons are middle class in a poor country. The sacrifice is on a scale that doesn't compare to what we're doing in the United States. Reporter: Which is why Dr. Jandial doesn't want to waste a minute of his time here. In the icu, another child waiting for surgery. Just two days ago a tumor was discovered in the center of Manuel's brain. I have an 11-year-old son. Reporter: What's the condition of the kid? Well, he's awake and talking. He's moving his arms and legs, so that's actually pretty good. But the tumor is in the center of the brain and the nerves pass right by it. Reporter: Based on the scans they believe that Manuel's tumor is benign, but the surgery itself is long and risky. It could be anywhere from five to seven hours. This is the tumor. You can see these little branches right here, those are the main carotid arteries coming into the brain. Reporter: Two Peruvian neurosurgeries, half a dozen residents, observing Dr. Levy's every maneuver. In this case the patient's in trusted hands. We just have to go figure that out. Reporter: They spent three hours and Manuel's mother is anxiously waiting for news. She's saying there's nothing in the world that she wishes than to see him and hug him. But an hour later, a humbling discovery. I think it's an optic nerve glioma. The boy's situation just got worse. We think it's a glioma, which is the worst type of brain cancer to have. It changes the goal of the operation. If it were a certain type of cancer, we try to get it all out. We take what we can safely. Nightmare for him and his mom is just beginning. Reporter: The pathology test results return confirming that the tumor is, in fact, maligna malignant. So there's no surgery we can do at this point. That's unfortunate. Reporter: Five hours of surgery are little help for Manuel. He'll have to undergo chemo and radiation. How do you feel about the operation? I feel pretty About it because there's nothing I can do surgically to change his life. It's not good news because I don't know how much life we'll allow him. It's just a big letdown. Because we're trained to do things to fix things. There's nothing we can do to fix him. There's no fairness in that, no matter where it is. There's no fairness in a young boy losing his life from a tumor. The tumor was coming out of the nerves. What is it like having to go to one mom that you know that the outcome is not going to be great? The people you don't want to talk to because you have no good news for them are the people you have to spend the most time with. It's never easy. Reporter: At the close of this long day, another difficult conversation. MARIA has been waiting for her son to have surgery for months. It's soft, like the world's biggest soft spot. Reporter: This child fell from the second story of their children fracturing his skull. She said she only looked away for a minute. Doctors tell the mother that there's not enough time left in the day. His operation will have to wait until tomorrow. She's devastated by the news. She hasn't eaten anything since yesterday. He's been crying. She just wants to get it over with. Reporter: A mother's guilt comes pouring out. You can't pick your days. Today is good news and bad news. Reporter: It's a new day, Manuel and Frederick are in recovery. But little Liam is waiting. Take a moment to think about the kid from yesterday. Take another moment to think about the kids today. Keep going. Reporter: Today he will finally have the missing piece of his skull put back in place. So we have to reopen the previous incision, make a giant flap, expose the surface of the brain and then try to drop a piece of skull in and reconstitute that. Reporter: After two hours the surgery is complete. The doctor said it went incredibly well. You can see him moving his legs already. He did awesome. Reporter: This is really good news, right? That he's kicking. The fighting and the resistance. That's good. For a neurosurgeon, that's the best. Reporter: The wait is finally over for his mother. Lee ul iam is one of the lucky ones. She's saying that you can notice how his head is round again. You know, on the the next battleship, on to the next hospital. Reporter: For "Nightline county ", reporting from Lima, Peru. Remarkable. Our thanks to Mariana for that report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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