by Diane Ako
HILO (KHNL) - Fourteen members of an October 2006 Aloha Medical Mission (AMM) trip to Sagaing, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) were recognized in a special presentation by the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday, May 16, 2007. This was the first AMM trip to Myanmar , conducted under the auspices of the Sitagu Ayuddhana Monastery and Hospital in 11th century Sagaing, Myanmar, across the river from Mandalay.
Mission leader Dr. Carl Lum led a team of seven doctors, including two anesthesiologists, an ophthalmologist, general surgeons and general practitioners, a physicians assistant, 5 nurses and an interpreter. The team worked on a wide variety of cases, from leprosy to respiratory diseases, children's ailments, cornea transplants and cataracts, and a number of minor and major surgical procedures for more than 300 patients.
The hospital facility at the monastery was built in 1984 and is staffed by Myanmar and India-trained physicians and nurses, who enjoyed an opportunity to work with and learn from the Hawaii team. On the last night of the full moon "Tazaungdine" Festival of Lights, the Hawaii team hosted the entire hospital staff to dinner and song performances in Myanmarese - and Hawaii 's inimitable "Aloha 'Oe". Three of the participants - Dr. Aisha Simjee, Hilo Nurse Mary Uyeda and her sister Paula Helfrich - have roots in Myanmar and were pleased to visit their homeland. The AMM team has been invited back again to Myanmar in November 2007.
Representing the Board of Directors of AMM, Hilo hospital administrator and nurse Shon Magsalin said, "We are grateful for the recognition, and we look forward to sharing this honor with our friends in Myanmar."
Dr. Carl Lum, General Surgeon, Honolulu
Dr. Andrew Oishi, General Surgeon, Honolulu
Dr. Michael Healey, General Practitioner, Honolulu
Dr. James Epure, General Practitioner, Honolulu
Dr. Steve Garron, Anesthesiologist, Hilo
Dr. Alain Wu, Anesthesiologist, California
Dr. Aisha Simjee, Opthalmologist , California
Frank Hollister, Physicians Assistant, Maui
Shon Magsalin, Hilo Hospital
Mary Uyeda, FNP, Hilo
Sonia Gumbs, Hilo
Marie Pacleb, Honolulu
Ken Kuwahara, Hilo
Paula Helfrich, Hilo