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."