I feel blessed and have long wanted to give back to those in need. My daughter had been on 4 other humanitarian missions in Haiti, Uganda, Honduras and India. She finally talked me into joining her. In July, my daughter (an ER nurse at Stanford University Hospital) and I went to Chone, Ecuador to serve on a humanitarian mission at The General Hospital. In 2016, the original hospital collapsed during a devastating earthquake and now the people of Chone are served in tents and mobile buildings. Patients often wait 6 months to see a surgeon and another 6 months to have their operation. When we arrived, patients were already waiting under a tarp outside to see us. My office was a tent, luckily with air conditioning! The operating room was better than I expected and was located in one of the portable buildings. We averaged eight operations each day. All the patients and their families were so appreciative. It was a very gratifying experience.
It was also a great chance to spend time with my daughter. She was a great help and was soon working as my assistant surgeon. In addition to the 3 duffel bags of donated medical supplies we brought down with us, my daughter also brought toys, books and stuffed animals for all the pediatric patients. You’ll see a photo of a young girl after her appendectomy who received one of the stuffies. She named her bunny “Luna” and was overjoyed when we told her she could keep Luna. Our time in Chone was incredible and I am so glad I went.
If you have the chance, please consider giving some of your time and talent to those in need. I found it to be an incredible experience and look forward to my next trip. Not sure where I’ll be going but I know I’ll enjoy it.