When we travel to other countries to perform clinical care, we’re focused on saving lives while at the same time creating the local systems that will allow this work to continue.
In Colombia, we’ve completed more than 15 medical missions, treating more than 750 children with limited access to care, while also sharing expertise with surgeons at our partner hospital, Hospital Infantil Napólean Franco Pareja (Casa del Niño) in Cartagena.
U-M plastic surgeon Dr. Robert H. Gilman explains how mission trips make him a better provider:
“Though I have always had a great deal of respect for all my patients, … my perspective has broadened. I’m more aware of things that we otherwise take for granted. We are privileged to work in an environment conducive to the practice of good medicine. Operating with fewer resources in Colombia has made me a more flexible and capable surgeon. It’s a good lesson for all of us who should be able to offer great care under a variety of different conditions.”
In Ethiopia, we led a team to perform the first kidney transplants in the country — the first big milestone in a multi-year effort to establish a transplant center in the East African country. Looking toward the future, this collaboration develops in-country expertise and capacity in the capital city Addis Ababa, including a specialty center with dedicated adjacent operating rooms for transplant donors and recipients.
U-M transplant surgeon Dr. Jeffrey D. Punch says:
“The real winners are the patients with kidney disease who up until now have had no treatment option other than the very expensive dialysis that some just can’t afford.”