A group of local doctors, nurses and medical technicians is hitting the road Friday, making the long trek to Cambodia to provide medical assistance and perform surgeries.
They are members of Medical Outreach and Community Assistance of Western New York, making their 11th trip offering medical help around the world. Most of the team is from Sisters of Charity Hospital.
They fly out of Toronto on a 14-hour trip to Hong Kong, then go on to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, where they will be based in a government hospital. Patients will come to them.
To help with their work, they are taking suitcases filled with donated medical equipment and other materials. OB/GYN Dr. Emmekunla Nylander said the group does not expect to deal with unusual health problems.
"Very few," Nylander said. "They have problems with what we call fibroids in large uteruses. That's mainly what our surgeries will be doing, to help remove these fibroids, performing hysterectomies. And some women have ovarian masses that may not be cancerous that need to be removed. So we do those types of surgeries there, as well."
Nylander tries to persuade medical students and medical residents to come along, that these trips overseas are an important contribution to being doctors and helping others.
"Actually take residents with me on my mission trips, but the medical students definitely," she said. "I try to bend their ear a little bit and let them know there is more to medicine than just tending to the patients here in the United States. Sometimes, some of us only go into medicine so we can have that nice house and car."
Nylander said the care provided can be gratifying.
"A young woman had come in from another village and she apparently had been treated, supposedly, for an ectopic pregnancy, but when we got there, she was already very anemic, still losing blood," the doctor explained. "We ended up taking her back to the OR and we actually found the ectopic pregnancy and were able to give her blood."
Nylander says this will be her 11th mission to far corners of the world. She encourages doctors in training to come on these trips to they can better understand medicine is more than just what they do in the United States.