Quang Ngai, Vietnam – Nicole Friedland, Interplast Staff. Photo by John Urban
Imagine if you can, 12 individuals who have never before worked together. They arrive in a foreign country and set up shop in hospitals in varying states of development. They are committed to helping disadvantaged people live better, more productive lives. The help they offer is highly specialized and often unavailable to poor people in developing countries.
The hospital has its own challenges: plugs that don't work, cold water only, which runs intermittently, toilets we really don't want to talk about, a recovery room without air-conditioning...the list goes on. It is challenging to mix 12 strangers together, put them in a new and very different environment and ask them to perform at peak level. But that is exactly what they are doing here, for two intense weeks.
The local doctors and nurses are pleased to have us here. The Vietnamese nurses scrub in and assist the American surgeons. The local surgeons come to observe difficult cases. The hospital has requested the team give some lectures.
The first child comes in for surgery and I am sobered. Lives are at risk. There is an energy in the air as the team gets ready and anesthesia is administered.