A Peak Experience

Edward White, MD

In 2002, my wife Daria and I traveled to St. Lucia in the West Indies to volunteer. Orthopedics Overseas, part of Health Volunteers Overseas, had a clinical opportunity and the island had the reputation of being a good place for novice volunteers to get their feet wet.

I did orthopaedics and Daria, whose background is child counseling, went into some schools to do what she does best: sprinkle fairy dust on children’s spirits. St. Jude’s Hospital, where I served, had 25 years of accumulated donated surgical equipment, very little of which was complete. The fracture table was broken, the power equipment was a Black and Decker drill in a plastic bag, the most common plates and screws were sparse, a full selection of intramedullary (IM) rods had no instrumentation, a poor selection of IM rods had full instrumentation; the operating room had no C-arm or portable films. Well, you get the picture.

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