Each of Us Can Make a Difference

A life serving others is a life worth living.

Annually, Dr. Bhrany participates in a surgical mission trip to Cambodia to provide care to those who suffer from facial deformities caused by congenital anomalies, cancer, or trauma—including domestic violence and war—and to also serve as an educational exchange with Cambodian medical students, residents, and surgeons.

The trips are coordinated through Smile Cambodia and Face to Face—the humanitarian arm of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Since 2006, they have been led by Dr. Craig Murakami, and we have the fortune of being joined by other surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nurses, and surgical technicians. The focus of these trips is to provide care such as microtia repair (creating ears for kids born without them), cleft lip and palate repair, complex facial reconstruction, and head and neck cancer surgery that would not otherwise be available to the Cambodian people. Over the years, the team has developed a relationship with Dr. Theavy Mok who is based at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, where the services are provided. Dr. Mok is a faculty member at both medical schools in Cambodia. The Cambodian medical students and residents participate in the surgical cases and our delegation provides lectures to the medical students and residents to promote their education in facial plastic surgery.

Dr. Bhrany with volunteers and workers in Cambodia

The trip is important because, after the reign of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian genocide from 1975-1979, only twenty-nine physicians survived to serve the entire country. Cambodia was not only left with a generational void of physicians to take care of their people but also to train future physicians. Our goal is to help bridge this gap by providing health care for those who suffer from facial deformities caused by congenital anomalies, cancer, or trauma and to educate Cambodian medical students, residents, and surgeons in order to sustain the care we provide for the short period of time we are there. In addition to providing lectures to the Cambodian medical students and residents that focus on facial reconstructive surgery, the Cambodian surgeons and trainees operate with us, with the goal of them gaining the skill to perform these procedures independently as we continue to return on a yearly basis.

But the scope of impact is not limited to the people of Cambodia. One could argue that just as much of an impact, if not more, is made on the individuals who serve on the trip. The trip is a reminder of why all of us chose medicine as a profession, that each of us can make a difference, and that a life serving others is a life worth living.

If you are interested in helping to support this surgical mission, please contact Dr. Bhrany at [email protected] or 206 599 Face (3223).

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