News / Africa

    US Doctors Help Liberian Kids

    Boys collect water at a well in Liberia's capital Monrovia. (File Photo)
    Boys collect water at a well in Liberia's capital Monrovia. (File Photo)
    Jane Labous

    American surgeons are using their expertise to teach Liberian doctors surgery skills and to give free surgery to children in Liberia, correcting facial deformities such as cleft palate, to the delight of thankful parents.

    The medical team from the Minnesota-based non-governmental organization, Children’s Surgery International, arrived earlier this month and visited Monrovia for 10 days.

    They performed 99 free surgeries on Liberian children suffering from cleft palates, urinary problems, hernias and other disorders.

    The team of 25 doctors, surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists brought all their own equipment and medicines from the United States.

    They worked out of the Firestone Medical Center at Duside Hospital in Monrovia.

    Serving children

    The team also found the time to travel out to orphanages to present belated Christmas gifts to children.

    “We do about three to four medical mission trips to serve children every year," said Lora Koppel, the chairman of the NGO. "One of our favorite places to come is here in Liberia because we have partnered with the people at Firestone as well as the staff at Duside hospital. The other thing that I’m very, very proud of is that all of us on the team, that makes up about 25 people from the States, are volunteering our time. None of us are paid to be here. We do it because we want to be here.”

    Children’s Surgery International worked in partnership with the Firestone Rubber Company to organize the visit. Company president Dan Adomitis originally invited the team to Liberia in 2010 because he believes the U.S. surgeons can change lives.

    “I am once again very excited about our mission here,"he said. "This is the third mission, and it’s helping so many children free of charge by some of the best surgeons in the world. They are doing miraculous surgeries that are changing lives. I know how hard it is for them to make the travel and to move equipment and medicines for this mission, but we are very happy to host them and to assist them, and we feel it is a service to Liberia that we wish to perform.”

    Training locals

    Adomitis says he feels that training local doctors is an essential service, to make sure expertise at the Liberian hospital improves.

    “We feel it makes our Firestone Medical Center a better facility, that it gives additional training and experiences to our hospital staff that make them better healthcare professionals," he added. "So we think this is a situation where everybody wins. And, that’s a good thing.”

    Success stories include a 23-year-old woman who had successful cleft surgery; a 13-year-old boy whose urinary problems, caused by falling from a tree, were cured and who can now return to school; and a seven-year-old patient who was discovered to have been assessed with the wrong sex at birth and had corrective surgery.

    Team member Sally Lannin says it is of the utmost importance that the Liberian doctors learn the necessary skills to perform such surgery in the future.

    “One of the things we are really trying to do is to take the opportunity to teach the doctors here, so that they are able to perform the surgery here on their own after we’re gone," said Lannin. "One of the things that we would do to make this mission a success would be, if after a number of years, we would never have to come back because the Liberian doctors would be able to do all the surgeries we know how to do. That would be our definition of success, if all the Liberian doctors here could know how to do cleft palates on their own, cleft lips on their own, fix hernias, that would be great. We, as an organization, are only interested in going to places in the world where the people there are interested in being taught how to do surgeries themselves, because it’s sort of like, you can catch a fish for a man and he can eat for a day, but if you teach him to fish he can eat for a lifetime. Well, you teach to be able to fix cleft palates and hernias and cleft lips, and you’ll be able to help children forever.”

    Parents

    Parents who brought their children to the hospital to be operated on sang Liberian cappellas - traditional hymns of praise and joy - and presented the team with a thank-you cake at the end of their visit.

    Oretha, the mother of a child who was successfully operated on, says she is thankful for the team’s work.

    “It’s fine, it’s alright," said Oretha. "Everything is okay. I thank you for the hard-working job you did on my son. God bless them, and God guard them.”

    Duside Hospital Administrator Joy Philips says the mission was an outstanding success and that she hopes the team will be back next year.

    “This process has really, really been a very good one," said Philips. "As you can see, mothers are going home today with children who came with all kinds of deformities in the last two, three days. We have actually had a few patients who have had such extensive surgery that they were required to remain longer than the two days that is usually required. I see three of them are actually going home this morning and that just tells you the level of efficiency and knowledge of the surgical procedures that the doctors here are performing on these patients."

    Children’s Surgery International says it will return to Liberia next year.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora