Hanover High soccer star Gardner doing his part for world health care – The Union Leader

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Updated: December 30, 2022 @ 4:22 am
Hanover High’s Jack Gardner is pictured with children during his recent trip to Rwanda.

Hanover High’s Jack Gardner is pictured with children during his recent trip to Rwanda.
JACK GARDNER had pretty much chosen his career path, but a trip to Rwanda last spring solidified his decision.
Gardner, a Hanover High School senior who plays on its boys soccer, hockey and lacrosse teams, accompanied members of Dartmouth Hitchcock’s gastroenterology department, including his dad, Dr. Tim Gardner, to Rwanda in March.
During his week in Kigali, Rwanda, Gardner listened to Dartmouth Hitchcock doctors give lectures to Rwandan physicians and residents and scrubbed in to observe surgeries for esophageal varices, which are enlarged veins in the esophagus that typically occur when normal blood flow to the liver is blocked.
Bleeding esophageal varices are life-threatening.
The Dartmouth Hitchcock group, led by Dr. Steve Benson, also brought and distributed “banders,” a simplistic medical device used in these surgeries that cost around $400.
Since Gardner, 18, returned home, the Hanover resident has been working to acquire and build parts for banders to supply Rwandan hospitals when he returns in November after the soccer season.
“I’m really interested in biomedical engineering,” Gardner said. “I really like to tinker … but I also want to do that and help people. I want to be able to build little devices that can go on and eventually save lives — like what I’m trying to do here.”
The banders’ high cost makes it difficult for Rwandan hospitals and patients to afford esophageal varices surgery, Gardner said. Rwandans can contract this condition from parasites residing in Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, that cause schistosomiasis, Gardner said.
“It’s a completely different environment — the health care system there,” Gardner said. “The professionals, they’re all very well trained, they all know what they’re doing except they don’t have the equipment to basically help their patients. … It’s really almost heartbreaking, I have to say, that they’re unable to perform these very basic, noninvasive surgeries just because of the cost of the equipment.”
Gardner bought caps, a piece used to make the banders, from an Indian manufacturer and plans to purchase more using money from his fundraising efforts at Hanover High and the youth group he is part of at his church, the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College. He will soon start 3D printing reusable handles, another piece used to make the banders.
Gardner, a captain for Hanover’s boys hockey and lacrosse teams this year, will bring these pieces to regional hospitals in Rwanda in November. The hospitals have the supplies on site to finish making their own banders, Gardner said. If the handles he makes work well after being tested, Gardner wants to make a third trip to Rwanda after 3D printing a large amount and distribute them to hospitals.
“That’s who Jack is,” said Rob Grabill, who is Hanover’s boys soccer coach and an associate pastor at the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College. “This was a pretty life-changing experience for him and, I think, his response was to say, ‘OK, what can I do?’ He went above and beyond what you would expect from someone who, at that time, was entering his senior year in high school.”
Through Division I Hanover’s 4-4 start to the boys soccer season, Gardner has scored a team-high four goals and leads the team by example as one of its seven seniors. The striker said he learned leadership qualities from watching Hanover’s previous captains and tries to just put his head down and do what is asked of him.
Grabill said Gardner is a perfect No. 9 striker, a great finisher and that he has vastly improved his off-ball play. Gardner’s teammates recognize him as a leader and he has a reputation for being supportive and training hard, Grabill said.
“He’s an asset to the team, he’s an asset to the school,” Grabill said of Gardner. “He takes his sports seriously but he’s in context. He knows there’s a big world out there with a lot of problems to solve and he’s not waiting to try to do his part.”
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