Ironically, we were in Haiti when we heard the devastating news of the Nepal earthquake. In 2010, the disastrous earthquake in Haiti is what originally brought us to serve in this region. Now five years after the Haiti earthquake, two programs have evolved at LEAP. The first program is a biannual elective Mission Program in Haiti where we send a surgical team of medical volunteers to provide craniofacial, pediatric urology, pediatric ENT, and pediatric surgery to the local children who have little or no access to these services otherwise. We are transforming lives with a focus on helping the thousands of children now living in orphanages due to the loss of many parents and grandparents during the earthquake. Also at our host hospital, we recently added a Pediatric Ward, thanks to the incredible efforts of our LEAP volunteers, Janet and Pat Ortega, along with donors who helped to fund the new ward. As a result, not only are many children able to receive medical care throughout the year in Haiti, but the hospital is also supported with advanced medical care by local pediatricians and neonatologists.
In addition, a second program that emerged from LEAP’s disaster relief efforts during the earthquake in Haiti has been an expanded international role and partnership with ISAPS, one of the largest professional plastic surgery societies in the world with more than 2,700 surgeons in 95 countries. The ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© program has been working together since 2013, sending self-funded surgical teams to regions where the need is greatest, including Jordan and Turkey, in order to help provide relief to the Syrian refugees.
Since the earthquake struck in Nepal, we simultaneously coordinated with our partners around the world to identify whether rapid surgical teams were immediately needed while our mission team was in Haiti. Dr. Craig Hobar was able to communicate with Dr. Shankar Rai, a tremendous Nepalese humanitarian who is a reconstructive plastic surgeon that trained in Dallas under sponsorship of Dr. Hobar’s former partner, Dr. Harry Orenstein. Through the tireless efforts by Dr. Hobar, Ryan Snyder Thompson (LEAP’s Director of International Disaster Relief), and Debbie Wisdom (LEAP’s Executive Director), we had teams ready to deploy to Nepal from India, Canada, China and the United States.
Dr. Rai, who has been working in Kathmandu on earthquake victims, advised us that the initial recovery efforts are currently being managed but to remain ready for a possible second phase of needed surgical help. He has assured us the acute needs are well under control but that a sustained and greatly needed second phase would be forthcoming. In addition, the international organizing agents are currently advising international medical teams not to enter Nepal at this time. Many volunteers are trapped at the airport and unable to get out due to the destruction of roads and clog of personnel attempting to open the roads leading to the airport. As happened in Haiti, very well-intentioned volunteers can add to the already burdened and overwhelmed system in place, which is why ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© have worked so hard with other leading international disaster relief programs, the World Health Organization, worldwide ministries of health, and various local partners in affected areas to optimally know when and how to provide the greatest level of surgical help.
For now, LEAP is:
1. Preparing through our leadership in the ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© to have surgical teams ready to go to Nepal, when and if the need arises.
2. Working with our partners at Baylor’s Faith in Action to provide financial support and needed medical supplies.
3. Working with a local Nepalese church in Irving to get funds, food, water, and needed medical supplies to the people of Nepal, as needed.
If you would like to make a donation to the people of Nepal, please visit leapmissions.org/donate, 100% of all financial donations will be provided to the earthquake victims of Nepal.
Update 4/30/15: We have confirmed with colleagues at MAP International that there is an urgent need to purchase antibiotics. We have made an initial donation with the donations we have collected through the ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© fund. You can donate or sign up to volunteer at the ISAPS-LEAP CVent page