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I have to admit, I was reluctant to take my family on a medical mission prior to our departure to Ethiopia. I was concerned about the exposure that my kids would have in this type of setting and concerned for their well-being. Fortunately at my two partners’ (James and Monica) persistence in regards to “forcing me” on this mission, my family has been blessed with an extraordinary, life-changing experience.

Through International Medical Relief Organization based out of Denver Colorado, we traveled with a small contingency of healthcare workers to Wukro Ethiopia where we resided in a local orphanage and took care of patients at a small hospital (funds provided for it by ProjectCure and constructed by USAID). We spent 3 weeks in the small town seeing over 800 patients while becoming a part of the family with the children of the orphanage.

My wife (Carrie Sclar-also a PA) and myself treated patients with 3 other local physicians responsible for more than 1 million people locally. My 2 children (Cooper-16, Chloe-13) spent their time at the orphanage, giving lessons in English and interacting with the children and engaging in a multitude of activities. My wife and I treated various medical issues that stemmed from obvious infectious diseases, musculoskeletal problems, thyroid disorders and cancers. Fortunately, there was a local TB, HIV and STD clinic that was critical in regards to diagnosis, treatment and education that we likewise became involved in.

I believe what impacted and impressed us so much about this mission was the people of Ethiopia. Warm, caring, considerate, loving, appreciative and friendly; can only begin to partially describe the characteristics of these amazing people that are so impoverished and lack so much healthcare. As is typical with such missions, we definitely came away with much more than we gave in regards to cultural impression and human connection.

The results of this fantastic experience has culminated in a most wonderful human interest story. We are in the process of bringing one of these young local Ethiopian physicians over to the United States and Evergreen in particular for a life-saving procedure. We befriended Dr. Kalayu, a young 28-year-old Dr., who has been unfortunately afflicted with heart valve disease secondary to untreated tonsillitis as a child. He is now symptomatic having chest pain and shortness of breath during clinic and has to typically leave in order to rest and recover. Unfortunately, these episodes are becoming more frequent and without a new valve, he will not survive.

My partners (and myself) at Arapahoe Peak Health Center are dedicated in terms of bringing this young physician over here for appropriate treatment. A local Hospital has graciously agreed to sponsor the surgery for Dr. Kalayu in conjunction with Dr. Martell (cardiologist), Dr. Brants (cardiothoracic surgeon) and the inpatient medical service physicians at the hospital. I will continue to update on this topic as the situation unfolds.

An amazing adventure filled with friends, peers and family not possible without the generosity and compassion from the people that I work with. I am excited to find out what type of experience Monica will have this next year in regards to her mission. Anything is possible.