On April 23, Don Laub, MD, Maggie Mangham, RN, and other members of a team of health care professionals flew into Bhutan, a country in South Asia at the eastern end of the Himalayas, where they spent a week performing 57 surgeries. The trip was sponsored by Surgicorps International, which provides surgical and medical care to people around the world.
Just getting to Bhutan from Burlington is an adventure. Dr. Laub and Maggie flew to Washington, DC, Tokyo and Bangkok – then, after sleeping four hours in the Bangkok airport, they flew the final three-hour leg of the trip into Bhutan. Considered the most dangerous place in the world to fly into because of the terrain – only 14 pilots are certified to make the flight – Bhutan offers spectacular views and warm, happy people who more than gave back to the team who provided their care.
On their first two days, the team evaluated 130 people. Most patients needed cleft lip and palate surgery. Others had serious burns, and a few had been injured in bear attacks (bears are particularly aggressive in this part of the world.)
The following five days were spent in a small room that served as an OR. With just one room and two operating tables – often in use simultaneously – “we were amazingly effective and efficient,” says Dr. Laub. “It was really great teamwork.”
Although Dr. Laub had been on 18 previous international medical missions, this was Maggie’s first trip to provide care in a remote area, fulfilling a dream she’d had since visiting Kenya during college. Recovery room nursing is her passion, and she was amazed by the warmth and gratitude of the people. “It was incredibly rewarding work,” she says. “These people were so appreciative – many of them had traveled miles by foot or car – and being in the recovery room, providing hands-on nursing care, was a great experience.”
Both Dr. Laub and Maggie hope to return to Bhutan next year.