Aloha Medical Mission Returns from Philippines Trip

Dr. Brad Wong
Dr. Brad Wong

by: Diane Ako

HONOLULU (KHNL)- A group of Hawaii doctors and nurses is just back from a medical mission to the Philippines. About 2 dozen people with the Aloha Medical Mission (AMM) went on their dime, and their time, to help poor Filipinos in a rural village.

Armed with boxes of supplies, AMM set to work in Sogod. The lines were long to get free health care. Team leader Dr. Brad Wong, a general surgeon who normally works at Queens Medical Center, says, "The general surgeons did large thyroids, breast cancer, sarcoma of the leg, and an amputation on a young boy because he had cancer on his bone."

Plastic surgeons fixed a lot of cleft lips and burn victims. "There's a lot of flame injuries there, and when a joint gets burned the skin grows such that the joint can't open," explains Wong.

Some people on the trip drive 1 hour south to Guinsaugon, to the site of an infamous February mudslide. Butch Dela Cruz, AMM's executive director, was on his first mission. A non-medical person, he served as the trip's documentarian, taking video and photos. "I'm glad I went. It was an eye-opening experience to see the landslide destruction. They're still trying to build the community."

While in Guinsaugon, the smaller group offered a one day medical clinic. There is much time and personal expense involved in such a whirlwind trip, but doctors say 9-day journey was well worth it when they saw the smiles on their patients' faces. Wong says, "It's rewarding in that you have this complete gratification."

The medical mission is returning to the Philippines next in January, to a village called Sanchez Mira. For more about AMM or future medical missions (there are more than one a year), click on the link for their website on the right.