Many of my associates at Allied Anesthesia have spent much of their personal time traveling around the world to help on medical missions. We have traveled to Nepal to Peru to China to Kenya to Jordan to India, fulfilling Allied Anesthesia’s mission of providing care to everyone in need. The Allied Anesthesiologists are specialists in both adult and pediatric anesthesia and we are able to use our specialized skills to take care of those in need.
The passion for many of us though, is helping the children of the world. The demand for pediatric anesthesiologists is great, not only in the United States, but in the world. Fortunately, at Allied, we are 48 strong in this field. Many of us have teamed up with Operation Smile to repair those children with cleft lip deformities. As you may know, the cleft lip deformity can be devastating to the child and families. The child may have difficulty eating and speaking, and may be stigmatized as being deformed. For the family, a cleft lip may mean giving up their only goat or cow to care for the child. In some instances, the child is abandoned. But, with a simple one hour procedure, the defect can be repaired, and the problems with eating, speaking and social acceptance are virtually eliminated.
In the past two years, I have volunteered in India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Guatemala, Nepal and the Philippines which has taken time away from work, my family and church. However, I am blessed to have such caring anesthesia associates, family and church supporters to allow me to serve those in need. I also have been part of other mission organizations that work with general surgeons, gynecologists, urologists, ophthalmologists and orthopedic surgeons to help adults and the elderly.
In many third world countries, the reality between the poor and wealthy is stark. The poor usually cannot afford treatment for ailments that in the United States are easily treated. As a result, the poor are left to suffer and die without proper health care. Such ailments include cleft lips, cleft palates, hernia, dental abscesses, arm and leg fractures, breast cancer, diseases of the eye that cause blindness and even appendicitis.
People ask why I go on two to three missions a year. I explain that it isn’t much of a sacrifice when you consider how much the patient benefits. If I told you that by giving up just one hour of your time, you could help another person eat and talk normally for the first time in his or her life, wouldn’t you do it too?
There is no possibility for them to pay me according to American standards, but when their child says thank you in broken English one day after a cleft lip repair with a beaming smile, and their family hands me a bunch of bananas from their farm that they could have sold to pay for their next meal, I am stunned in agonizing humbleness. And, that is why I will always return to serve.