Day 6 – Origins: Surg+Restore Journey to Sierra Leone

Dr. Martyn Webster MD (Glasgow, Scotland). Plastic Surgeon and President of ReSurge Africa. Catherine Liaou RN (London, England). Head Nurse Education Coordinator Holy Spirit Hospital, Makeni, Sierra Leone.

The week of November 4th, 2012 finds the first official collaboration of ReSurge Africa and Surg+Restore/Africa at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni.  Dr. R. Scott Brown, President and Founder of Surg+Restore met with the Board of Directors of ReSurge Africa in Glasgow, Scotland to formalize the collaboration of the two non-profit organizations.  Together with Dr. Martyn Webster, President of Resurge Africa, they are currently working and traveling in Sierra Leone.  The first few days of the journey they will be joining Women 4 Health, a non-profit international surgical organization from California, at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni.  They will be meeting with Dr. Patrick Turay, Medical Director of Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni and Dr. Kathy Waldorf, Vice President of Surg+Restore/Africa who is operating with Women 4 Health in Makeni as well as Dr. Amy Wedel, President of Women 4 Health.

The mission of Surg+Restore/Africa and ReSurge Africa is to provide funding and volunteers to train doctors, nurses , therapists and ancillary personnel in order to establish and maintain a self sufficient reconstructive surgery and burn unit in Makeni, Sierra Leone.

Tom Johnson President of Africa Surgery Inc. and Amy Wedel MD Plastic Surgeon and Founder of Women 4 Heath

The project was realized when Tom Johnson contacted Dr. Martyn Webster in 2008.  Tom is President of Africa Surgery Inc.  He served two years as a U.S Peace Corp volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1989-1991, being forced to leave at the beginning of the brutal civil war which lasted over 12 years.  The war almost completely destroyed the small countries already weak medical infrastructure.  One of the projects of Tom’s foundation is to send Sierra Leoneans, who suffer from Pott’s Disease which is a disfiguring and crippling disease of the spine from tuberculosis infection, to Ghana for spine surgery. Because Sierra Leone has no spine surgeons, Africa Surgery Inc. has to raise funds of over $10,000 U.S. for each patient to undergo treatment in Accra, Ghana.  To date, Tom has sent 82 patients to Ghana since the start of his project.

Tom had contacted Dr. Webster, when he discovered that Dr. Webster was one of the founders and leaders of ReSurge/Africa, a non-profit charity that was formed to train Ghanian reconstructive surgeons in the United Kingdom.  This project was started in the early 90”s, at a time when the country of Ghana had not a single plastic and reconstructive surgeon in the entire country. ReSurge Africa trained and educated 8 Ghanians in the U.K. and now Ghana has a self sufficient plastic surgery center as well as their own training program.

Dr. Kathy Waldorf, Vice-President Surg+Restore/Africa, and patient

Dr. Webster agreed to coordinate and head a similar mission in Sierra Leone in conjunction with the Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, which is under the auspice of the Don Gniocchi Foundation of Italy.  Before Martyn’s first medical mission to Makeni, he contacted an American doctor, R. Scott Brown an Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Specialist who holds a Masters Degree in Public Health. Dr.’s Brown and Webster had worked together the previous year on a mission in Accra, Ghana, and both being veterans of over 20 international medical missions, were eager to embark on the challenge in a country in such need of medical care. Within two years, Dr. Webster invited Dr. Brown to be a  trustee of ReSurge Africa and they agreed that to fund and maintain the long term goals of the project in Makeni, Dr. Brown would need volunteer medical personnel and funding form the United States. Dr. Brown then conferred with Dr. Kathy Waldorf, who he had invited to work in Makeni in 2010, and they agreed to found and coordinate Surg+Restore/Africa.

Dr. Martyn Webster with Sierra Leonean patients in the pre-surgery clinic.

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