Late last year, Dr. Bob Burlingame took leave from his home and Ophthalmology practice in Texas, USA to hook up with a YWAM Ships’ medical outreach team at Mt. Hagan General Hospital in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.
There, he joined forces with resident eye-surgeon, Dr. Waimbe Wahamu and five volunteer YWAM nurses representing USA, Canada, Finland and the UK.
Sight was restored to over 150 patients, and lives were changed for good in patients and practitioners, alike.
Listen to the Doctor…
“For anybody who’s contemplating missions, I want to share the story of a young lady, 40 years old,” recounts Dr. Bob. “Hannah* had been blind for years due to a cataract that we would rarely see in the United States, somewhat akin to dark chocolate. She had been limited by her vision for years and years, she just couldn’t function. But with no access to sophisticated healthcare, she had to rely on others for her visual needs.”
Dr. Bob took Hannah into surgery and performed a small-incision cataract surgery, delivering a chocolate brown nucleus from her right eye and replacing it with a new, clear implant with a well-sealed, suture-less incision. He anticipated the best for her.
“I was not disappointed the next day, when tears streamed down her face and mine, as I removed the bandage,” the doctor recalls, emotionally. “The smile on her face… knowing that her life had suddenly changed for the better for the rest of her days… it’s a feeling of satisfaction that I’m not sure you can ever achieve in the modern world, in a modern practice.”
There are no electronic medical records In the Highlands, no insurance companies, and no Medicare.
As the good doctor says of volunteering for this kind of work:
“It gets you back to being a physician; to being what you got in it for in the first place.
“I went into [medicine] to do good, and now we get to do this and serve the King. It’s an amazing feeling, and I would encourage you to do it, and do it now.”
*patient’s name has been changed