We were blessed to send three specialty teams to Majuro, Marshall Islands in May and June 2014. We sent an orthopedic surgery team for two weeks, starting May 24, and two separate dental teams running clinics for one week each, arriving May 31 and June 14.
The orthopedic team was one of our largest to date: 3 orthopedic surgeons, 2 operating room nurses, 2 recovery nurses, 1 physical therapist, 1 anesthesiologist, 1 clinic coordinator, 1 biomedical technician, and 3 clinic office assistants made up the bulk of the team. There was additional support staff as well.
Richard Henderson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, assembled and led the team. A Canvasback regular who has accompanied us on five missions so far, Henderson said the pediatric cases stood out to him on this particular excursion.
“We did more children on this trip than I’ve done on any other,” said Henderson. “There was a preponderance of huge cases.” Correcting children’s orthopedic problems is important because it prevents future problems and limitations. “We fixed at least four or five kids’ arms, allowing them to work normally in the future. Without treatment, they would have been left with deformed arms.”
Henderson’s wife, Kay Henderson, MD, counseled and triaged patients at the clinic. They work and live in Walla Walla, Washington.
John Anderson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon on his first trip with Canvasback, had the privilege of performing surgeries that had never been done in Majuro. In total, the team did four uni-compartmental (partial) knee replacements and two ACL reconstructions—the first of their kinds at the hospital.
“It was hard work,” said Anderson, “but it was very rewarding.”
Anderson was accompanied by his wife, son, and daughter on the mission. They worked in the clinics in the mornings and ran children’s outreach programs in the community in the afternoons. The Andersons are from Portland, Oregon, and they attend Hood View SDA Church. Anderson practices medicine at Portland Adventist Medical Center.
Robert Wells, MD was our third orthopedist, and he and his wife Susan Wells stayed behind after the rest of the team left to make sure all post-op patients were infection-free until discharge. From Portland, Oregon, he and his wife have worked with Canvasback for decades. Always eager to introduce new people to mission work, he brought his grandson Jakob Voorhies on this excursion.
In total, the orthopedic team examined 323 patients and performed 34 surgeries, including 12 total or partial knee replacements and 1 hip replacement. The value of services is calculated to be $1,227,039.
Our two dental teams each consisted of 2 dentists and 1 dental assistant. In two weeks of clinics our two teams saw 262 patients and performed 497 procedures, including extractions, fillings, and root canals. The total value of services provided was $155,805. In addition, Steve Chang, DDS, who has accompanied Canvasback on multiple trips, provided additional hands-on training to the hospital dentists.
James Kim, DDS has been on many mission trips, but this was his first with Canvasback.
“It was a very rewarding experience to be able to work with other mission-oriented people,” said Kim, who was brought along by Chang.
Kim is from Salinas, California, and he runs his own practice: James Kim, DDS Family Dentistry. He and his wife attend the Monterey Korean SDA Church.
Your mission is always looking for more volunteers. This September, for instance, we are sending a dental team to Ebeye, and we are looking for one more dentist to complete the team. We are also looking for urologists and pediatric and adult cardiologists to fill positions for next year’s missions.
Our lives are enriched by the experience of serving. Our volunteer medical personnel echo this sentiment.
Henderson said, “It’s a way in which you can combine service to individuals, service to humanity as a whole, and adventure. It’s quite a unique opportunity.”
“It was a very organized mission trip,” Kim said. “That was very good. If there are other people who want to go who have never gone, Canvasback would be a good organization to start with.”
Of course, you don’t have to be a medical professional to serve.
“I think there’s a role for everyone,” said Anderson. “You don’t have to have medical training to contribute. It really gives perspective on the world and causes you to grow. Just because you’re not a surgeon doesn’t mean you can’t come out and help.”