Brazilian Brothers on UHealth Team Close Out Rio Games

UHealth in Rio – Part 6

Joao Braghiroli, M.D., and Oddone Braghiroli, M.D., just had the best family reunion ever. Born in Salvador, Brazil, the brothers reunited in Rio de Janeiro as medical volunteers for the Olympics. When not hard at work, they made the most of their time in Rio, because they knew they’d soon find themselves on different continents.

Oddone will be starting his residency in general surgery at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Joao is the chief cardiology fellow at UHealth and Jackson Memorial Hospital. But until the games closed on Sunday, they made the Rio Olympics an epic family adventure.

“We had the chance to be in the Summer Olympics in our home country as volunteers, giving our contribution to the event, the athletes, our country — together,” said Oddone. “It made it all the more special.”

The brothers did not have much time together, though, because Joao was stationed at Olympic Stadium for track and field, and Oddone was working events at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center. But after their work was done, they toured the Olympic sites and attended competitions as fans.

“We were at the final soccer game where Brazil won the gold medal for the first time,” said Joao. “We were together at our favorite sport and watching our favorite team win it all. I couldn’t believe it!”

Their first priority, however, was caring for the athletes.

“UM should be very proud,” said Joao. “The medical directors said the UHealth physicians did a great job. We took care of most of the athletes who didn’t speak Portuguese. With my excellent training at the Miller School of Medicine, I was able to take the leadership role at my work station, as did fellow resident Dr. Charlie Karcutskie. We took leadership roles everywhere we worked. It was great for UHealth.”

“The support from UHealth had to have been decisive to make their team of volunteers so diverse and capable of responding to any unpleasant health-related event,” added Oddone.

While the professional experience the Braghiroli brothers gained in Rio was indescribable, both brothers admit that the hardest part of volunteering was containing their team spirit.

“The pole vault was fantastic,” Joao said. “I was the designated physician for that track station. Professionally, I was holding in my emotions, but I couldn’t help but get excited when Brazil won. Everyone at the station became friends. That’s the Olympic spirit. It’s fantastic.”

The brothers finally had their first opportunity to work together at the closing ceremony, where they staffed the VIP suite with fellow UHealth physician Antonio Marttos, M.D.

“It was the most prestigious place to be working as a physician,” Joao said. “We were responsible for the health of the president of Japan, the president of the Olympic committee, Brazilian and international dignitaries and many other VIPs.”

With the Olympics over, the Braghirolis are extremely proud of how well the games were conducted, despite the unrest in their home country.

“Brazil is in a major crisis — financially and politically,” Joao said. “Many people were hesitant to come, but in the end, the games flowed because the population embraced the cause. We assumed the Olympic spirit and received people the best way we could. Being there, I was proud to be Brazilian at that moment.”

“I believe all the volunteers saw this unique opportunity — learning, exchanging experiences, sharing the values of the Olympic Games — as a special memory,” Oddone said. “All associated institutions, like UHealth, should be very proud of supporting this event. Their personnel will return better professionals and individuals.”

Joao agreed, adding that being in Rio with his UHealth colleagues and brother made the trip all the more special. “It was so unique. I can’t believe I had this opportunity. And to all my
colleagues in Miami I would say, ‘Next time, if the opportunity is presented, don’t think twice about volunteering, because working the Olympics was a fantastic experience.’”

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