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Home Our Missions Mission of Education Ten Years of Healing - A TIMA doctor

Ten Years of Healing - A TIMA doctor

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Ten Years of Healing
Indonesia
A TIMA doctor
What keeps them going?
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A TIMA doctor
With a 12-kilogram (27-pound) medical kit on his back, plastic surgeon Ye Tian-hao (葉添浩) visited many heavily damaged villages in Sichuan, China. Ye hails from Taiwan, but was busy making house calls, checking to see how he could help. His "house calls" were actually to patients living in tents. Their homes had been destroyed by the strong earthquake that devastated Sichuan on May 12, 2008.

One girl that Ye visited had suffered a broken ankle. Unfortunately, his medical kit necessarily contained only the most essential items; he had no plaster of Paris or fiberglass to make a cast for her. So, the good doctor improvised. He asked villagers to get him some wood boards, cardboard, and towels, and made her a splint good enough to keep the broken bone from moving. He told the girl to keep the cast on for two months until the bone healed. When Ye returned to Sichuan a month later with another free clinic mission, he brought plaster of Paris with him. He sought out that girl and replaced the make-shift cast with a real one. This gave her much more freedom to move around.

Free clinic missions are often organized in the wake of natural disasters. This is when the need is highest. Ye has participated in ten free clinic missions overseas in the last five years, in such places as Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and China. Like other Tzu Chi volunteers on such missions, he pays for all his expenses, such as lodging and transportation.

Ye went to Indonesia four times in a two-year stretch to help. People waited in long lines to be treated. Although they varied greatly in age, they all had one thing in common: a cleft lip. One in 700 babies born have a cleft lip, making it the most common birth defect in the world. In the United States, corrective surgery is generally done when the baby is between 10 and 12 weeks old. But these folks in Indonesia weren't so fortunate. Some of them had suffered a life of humiliation and ridicule for their deformity. However, they considered themselves lucky, because they were among the fortunate to be finally receiving the operation at all. No wonder some of them put on their best clothes for this life-changing occasion.

"I operated nonstop on one patient after another, and so did my fellow surgeons, said Ye. "It is a simple job for us, but it has the potential of changing the patient's life for the better." He wished that he had a thousand hands with which to operate all at once.

When Ye is not out of the country on a mission, he makes a point of spending time with people in Taiwan who can use his help. He visits communities with other volunteers to promote health maintenance, preventive care, and healthful lifestyles; he treats patients in their own homes; he cleans filthy houses for owners who can no longer do it themselves; and, if need be, he stands in as an assistant to another surgeon so an operation can proceed smoothly. He goes anywhere he can help and does whatever he can.

Naturally, his volunteering takes time away from his own medical practice and cuts into his income. But he cherishes the opportunities to do good deeds, and he participates in free clinics whenever he can. The thrill of helping others comes far above the lure of making money.

Dr. Ye's altruism is representative of the rest of TIMA's membership. There is no lack of physicians like him in the association.


 

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