In many parts of the world, availability of even basic health care is limited. That means access to medical specialty care, such as the transformative power of procedures we offer at our New Jersey plastic surgery practice, can be a daunting challenge.
That’s where medical mission trips come in. They provide treatments for patients in need that would otherwise not be able to get care. In any given year, there are hundreds of groups, organizing thousands of medical mission trips throughout the world. On these trips, a plastic surgeon from New Jersey can happily serve alongside specialists from all over the United States, each contributing unique expertise. It’s about ambassadorship and goodwill, of course, but it’s mostly about helping underserved patients in the developing world.
This past September, I had the privilege of participating on a medical mission trip to Honduras with Interplast South. The focus of this trip was to provide cleft lip and palate care to children. Interplast South has organized medical mission trips to Honduras for the past 30 years. My previous trip with them was several years ago as a plastic surgery resident. I was thrilled to be invited back as an attending. Just check out all the wide grins on their photo gallery.
A New Lease on Life
On this trip, there were long days, filled with lots of hard work. But it was all immensely satisfying and fulfilling. Plastic surgeons, pediatric anesthesiologists, and specialty nursing staff all worked together to help dozens of children recover both form and function. The assistance we received from the local medical staff and students was indispensable. We worked as a team, singular in purpose with no sense of hierarchy. It was the clearest connection between healthcare need and delivery one could imagine.
Plastic Surgery to Restore Function
Surgeries were performed at the Ruth Paz Hospital for Pediatric Surgery in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Although all of the medical staff on these trips volunteer their time and efforts, infrastructure and a significant amount of supplies are required to provide the care. These trips could not happen without the patronage of the Ruth Paz Foundation and Smile Train. It was the access to their resources, along with the generosity of the many families who welcomed us into their homes, that made it all possible.
Cleft care was an area of plastic surgery I first developed an interest in during residency. That interest was the primary motivation to complete a craniofacial surgery fellowship, during which I learned the skills to treat cleft patients. It continues to be a passion of mine. I hope to have the opportunity to participate on many more medical mission trips in the coming years.
You Can Provide Aid, Too
In our daily hectic lives, we often overlook the needs of those less fortunate. During the holiday season, not only is it imperative to be grateful for the many good things in our lives — it’s also important to give back. There are many ways to do this. I’m sure the folks at Interplast South would appreciate a small donation to help them give back.