Annual Volunteer Trip Takes UM Surgical Team to Fiji to Treat Patients with Head and Neck Conditions
Update (2/21/16): This past weekend, Fiji was devastated by Cyclone Winston. All 12 members of the UM surgical team are OK and awaiting the international flight home.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Fiji as they struggle to rebuild, and we pray for the families who lost loved ones and whose homes were destroyed.
We are exceptionally proud of the courage and dedication of our mission team. They saw over 100 patients over the course of their stay and completed a large number of surgeries. The actions of these selfless individuals embody many of the reasons that individuals choose medicine as a career and many of the reasons that a number of clinicians volunteer for such medical missions.
University of Maryland head and neck surgeons Rodney Taylor, MD and Jeffrey Wolf, MD have seen first-hand how devastating cancer and other conditions of the head and neck area can be for some patients. Not only do certain types of conditions undermine their health, but they can also be disfiguring and carry social stigmas.
“Many times people with head and neck conditions are ostracized from their communities and go into hiding. These conditions can be life-altering,” says Dr. Wolf. He and Dr. Taylor are associate professors of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who treat patients at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.
The doctors are determined to help. Each year, a team of University of Maryland Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists (led by Drs. Taylor and Wolf) travel to a different under-served part of the world to provide their services free of charge. The team pays 100 percent of their own way, including airfare, shipping costs for their equipment and the cost of purchasing additional supplies not available onsite.
This year, the UM medical mission boasts 12 volunteers – surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents and nurses. This specialized ENT team will travel a total of 29 hours by plane, boat and car to Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu. There they will operate out of the Mission at Natuvu Creek, a nonprofit model community that provides medical and educational services to rural people of Fiji.
This visit will mark the first time Vanua Levu has been visited by ENT, head and neck surgeons, and the team is eager to start helping those in need. They expect to see a lot of patients with disfiguring conditions, such as cancer, and those with goiters (enlarged thyroids) and parotid tumors (on the salivary glands). The team will care for as many patients as they can during their week-long stay in Vanua Levu.
The trek will be long, and the medical team is hopeful the surgeries will be successful.
The team heads to Fiji on February 12.
Donations will help defray the cost of travel and other expenses. Learn more about how to donate here: http://www.marylandentmissions.org/donate
For more information on the Mission at Natuvu Creek, visit their website: http://natuvu.org/