It’s important to remind ourselves how lucky we are having access to life-saving or life-changing surgery. Patients in less fortunate countries in South East Asia often have to wait years to receive what should be urgent medical attention, if they receive it at all. Interplast is a charity providing medical care to those who need it most, and some of our amazing Australian Plastic Surgeons are involved.
Stories like 3yr old Kevin are all too common. Kevin is one of many born with a cleft lip and palate. He and his father had to travel eight hours from their home in the Philipines to meet with the Interplast volunteer surgical team in the major city of Cagayan de Oro so Kevin could have life-changing surgery. Although Kevin was unsettled for much of his stay in the hospital, his cleft lip and palate were repaired so he could begin to heal.
Kevin is one of 44 patients who received surgery from local surgeons and international Interplast volunteers who performed almost 60 procedures on that one surgical and training program trip. Most of the patients were children under the age of 5yrs of age who had cleft lips and palates.
Interplast reguarly organises these trips to those countries that need it most, and many of our Australian surgeons, nurses, anesthetists and medical professionals give up their time to be a part of it all. Australian medical students are also able to join the teams in an observational role to experience what it’s like to perform surgery in a developing country with different health standards and challenges. They say it opens their eyes and teaches them skills they would never learn in a textbook.
Nurses are also an essential part of the teams and nurses such as Thao Phan are able to volunteer in remote locations such as rural Mongolia. He was first opened up to the idea through his colleague and anesthetist Dr David Pescod who regularly volunteers with Interplast. Apparently David identified great potential in Thao and approached him about volunteering in the often challenging but hugely rewarding environment that is the Mongolian health system. Thao says the experience put perspective into his career and he was impressed by the local medical and nursing teams at Khovsgol United Hospital who he says were very competent, dedicated, professional and eager to learn, which made it much easier than he expected. Thao also loved that he got to enjoy the countryside and get an insight into traditional family life.
If you are a qualified nurse specialising in theatre or recovery, anaesthetic, plastics, surgical or ward nursing or nurse educating, and are interested in volunteering with Interplast, you can find out more here.
Interplast rely on the generous donations to their charity. If you’d like to help make a change to childrens’ lives and make a donation, click here.