On our recent Rotary Medical Mission from District 3080, our team of 18 doctors and 9 volunteers was given a warm welcome by the Rotarians of Kigali in Rwanda. Earlier this year we had taken similar ones to Malawi, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
These medical missions beyond borders were introduced by PRIP Rajendra K Saboo and Usha Saboo in 1998-99, which have successfully delivered crucial vocational training and medical treatment, including free surgery, for the needy across Africa.
Regardless of the position that we may acquire in Rotary, sometimes we need to roll up our sleeves and get personally involved in serving humanity.
An AV presentation on the Medical Mission to Rwanda drew several appreciations at the Rotary Convention in Seoul. “We don’t know numbers. We count human lives. This is how we can touch people,” says Saboo, talking about the Mission in the video. For him and spouse Usha, these missions are “the elixir of life” that gives them “renewed energy.”
“You don’t need to be a surgeon to do what you’re doing. You can just donate your skills for a day or two and that could make a difference to so many people. The satisfaction that you get cannot be paid for by money,” says RI President K R Ravindran.
RI President volunteers
The Rwanda mission had an additional significance with the participation of President Ravindran and Vanathy as volunteers. Donning the OT uniform, the couple pushed trolleys of medical equipment, ferried patients to and from the operation theatre, cheered the sick in the wards and witnessed amazing, life-saving surgical procedures conducted by our doctors.
Commenting on Ravindran’s participation in the mission, PRIP Saboo says, “Ravi wanted to do so as he has always felt that, regardless of the position that we may acquire in Rotary, sometimes we need to roll up our sleeves and get personally involved in serving humanity. This is one of the paramount ways, he feels, we make ourselves a Gift to the World.”
The medical team worked in the University Teaching Hospital CHUK and Rwanda Military Hospital, sharing modern techniques, methodology, vocational training and skills with the local medical staff. Our surgeons treated around 300 patients for various health disorders.
Life altering surgeries
Michel Bizimungu (32) had ruptured his patellar tendon of the knee while playing soccer, and was unable to walk for six months. Orthopaedic Surgeon Asit Chidgupkar treated him with a tendon graft and some ancillary fixation and Bizimungu is now on his feet, works out at the gym and is ready to play soccer again!
We don’t know numbers. We count human lives.
— PRIP Rajendra K Saboo
You should have seen the joy on the face of a woman after our surgeons — Karan Singh, B P S Parmar, Dipak Leuva and Vikas Tyagi — removed a 7.5 kg tumour that had been inside her for 15 years! The surgery lasted for three hours. Parmar, a laparoscopic surgeon, performed several surgical procedures after repairing the laparoscopic apparatus that had been lying unused for over a year at the hospital.
Leuva, an ENT surgeon, demonstrated cadaver nasal endoscopic surgery training for the medical staff at the Police Hospital.
Project Chair PDG Ranjit Bhatia and Medical Director Dr Rajan Sharma coordinated the logistics with support from Rotarians and Rotaractors of D 9150.
Ravindran and Vanathy met the children who had earlier undergone heart surgeries through our Heartline project at the Fortis Hospital, Mohali, (published in Rotary News, June issue). They, along with Usha Saboo and Patricia Hilton, visited the children’s wards at both the hospitals and cheered them up with gifts.
At a dinner hosted by the Rotarians of D 9150, in which Jeannette Kagame, spouse of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, was the chief guest, PRIP Saboo announced that D 3080 will sponsor heart surgeries for 20 children from Rwanda, at Fortis Hospital in Mohali, through our Heartline Project and organise specialised training for ten Rwandan doctors in Chandigarh.
Minister of Health Dr Agnes Binagwaho also hosted a farewell dinner for the team. President Kagame appreciated the services of the medicare team at a special meeting hosted in our honour.
(David Hilton is the DG of D 3080 and his daughter, Melissa is a member of RC Melbourne Park, D 9800, Australia.)
The Medical Mission Team
Orthopaedic Surgeons: Rajan Sharma, Asit Chidgupkar, Shri Mohan, Yash Shirshetty and Karvekar Shashank; Urology: Narender Kashyap and Sanjay Deshpande; ENT: R Sanjay Manthale and Dipak Leuva; General Surgery: Karan Singh and Bhanu Parmar; Anaesthesiologists: Surinder Singh, Ramesh Kumar, Vikas Kumar, Lokesh Chinchkhede, Seema Waikdande and Gian Chand Chauhan; Pathologist Histopath: Rajiv Pradhan.
The Volunteer Support Group included PRIP Rajendra Saboo, Usha Saboo, DG David Hilton, Patricia Hilton, PDG Ranjit Bhatia, PDG Manpreet Singh Gandhoke, H S Saggu, Mona Khattar and Melissa Hilton.