Tag Archives: medical mission

Part Three | Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last month on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. Read Part One and Part Two of this blog series.

by Larry Sirls, M.D., Beaumont urologist

Several times during our trip we have lost power. We know this is the rainy season, but over the last many years we have had very few storms, occasional rains, but no big, classic storms. This year, we have had big storms every day. Huge black fronts cover half of the sky with lightning sprinkled in, coming toward us from the horizon. It’s beautiful, really. However, when the storm hits it’s raining sideways, the wind howls and there is a good chance we lose power. We lost power at least once every day, most days several times, sometimes for an hour or more.

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Losing power when you are operating ranges from bad to very, very bad. If we are doing surgery with a scope that needs a light source and electrocautery, the surgery just stops right there because you can no longer see, the operating field is black. If you are doing an open surgery, you can use a battery-powered headlight and can often continue on.

We are in the southern hemisphere, it is our winter at home and I ask a local doctor if this is considered their summer.  She says, “What is summer? I do not understand. We only have rain and no rain.” Well, we are in the rain, and it is hot. It is not steamy jungle hot (that you might think of as summertime Africa near the equator) because our location is on an elevated plateau, about 3,500 feet above sea level.  Yet it is hot enough that when we have our surgical gowns on we sweat a lot. A lot.

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Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last week on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. 

by Kenneth Peters, M.D., Chief, Urology, Beaumont, Royal Oak

Surgical mission

Beaumont staff members spent the day packing medical supplies to use on the medical mission trip to Zambia.

After flying nearly 8,000 miles, we have safely arrived in Lusaka, Zambia. While our team is relatively small, there is a huge community that is helping to support our work. Funding for the trip is provided by the Michael Ingber Africa Fund and Growing Hearts of Africa, a foundation created by the families of Michael Barer, M.D. and Sol Barer, M.D.  In addition, we have had many grateful patients and friends donate to our mission work.

The excitement for the trip has been growing for the past several weeks as we gathered and packed supplies that the African hospitals usually lack. This year, we have collected over 500 pounds of medical supplies, packed in 11 pieces of luggage. Unfortunately, it is all being held up in customs in Lusaka, Zambia. Hopefully, we will get our supplies tomorrow.

Today, we met with Dr. John Kachimba. In 2004, Dr. Kachimba spent a year with the urology fellowship program at Beaumont, an educational experience that was funded by the Ministrelli Program for Urology Research and Education (MPURE). Dr. Kachimba, who was born and raised in Africa, helps to organize the surgical trip, which provides care to men, women and children with urologic conditions. We will be traveling to Monze, Zambia on Tuesday to do the majority of our patient evaluations and surgeries.

Follow the Beaumont Blog for additional posts from Dr. Peters during this mission trip.

Read Part Two of this blog series.

Read Part Three of this blog series.

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Beaumont Eye Care Team Changes Lives in Kenya

by Lindsay Murphy, BSN, RN, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak

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In August, a team of Beaumont physicians, residents, nurse anesthetists, nurses and family members departed for a medical mission in Migori, Kenya, a remote rural community 300 miles west of Nairobi. Over three days in clinic, Beaumont staff performed some 55 cataract operations, saw over 400 general ophthalmic patients and another 200 general medical patients—many of whom traveled many miles on foot and on bicycle, over savannah trails and back roads to reach our clinic. No one was turned away; many patients stayed overnight at the clinic, rather than risk the dangerous journey home after dark.

Cataract surgery in KenyaDuring our mission, I saw a 14-year-old girl who came to the clinic with a severe cataract in the right eye, leaving her with only hand-motion vision in that eye. The left eye sported a perfectly functional intraocular lens and 20/20 vision, the legacy of a previous cataract surgery. In halting but correct English, she told me, “One year ago, you fixed my other eye. Is perfect. I waited for you to return, my other eye to fix.” Via interpreter, her mother told us that her previous surgery had been done by a Beaumont ophthalmic team in 2012 and she wanted the same team to treat her other eye.

We were in the most remote reaches of Eastern Africa, over 7,000 miles from home. Our patient probably couldn’t have told you where Detroit was on a map… but she knew, with her vision at stake, that she wanted a Beaumont surgeon.

The young girl underwent an uneventful surgery and her second eye turned out just as perfect as the first. I’m proud to be a part of a group of Beaumont health providers that serve people around the globe, traveling to other countries on their own time to help those in need.

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