Humanitarian Travel Grant: Medical Mission in Lanzhou, China
Thanks to the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Travel Grant, I was able to participate in a medical cleft exchange mission in Lanzhou, China, in July 2019.
Alexandria S. Ortiz, MD
Thanks to the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Travel Grant, I was able to participate in a medical cleft exchange mission in Lanzhou, China, in July 2019. I traveled with Lisa M. Buckmiller, MD, and a team of volunteers from Love without Boundaries, a nongovernmental organization based in the United States that has worked in Lanzhou for several years. Dr. Buckmiller, a pediatric otolaryngologist from The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, has organized and participated in over 30 cleft-related missions throughout her career.
The opportunity to participate in a cleft mission had been a lifelong dream for me. I am a military resident from San Antonio Military Medical Center, and my decision to become a military physician was driven in large part by a motivation to do work in austere environments and in a humanitarian capacity. Cleft surgery has always been particularly interesting to me and was one of the first things that drew me to the field of otolaryngology.
During our one-week experience in Lanzhou, we screened dozens of patients and performed over 25 cleft surgeries. We worked alongside surgeons from the Gansu Provincial Hospital in Lanzhou, and the experience of learning new techniques and exchanging information with these physicians was invaluable. Some of my favorite moments occurred during a post-op round with the Chinese medical team because we were able to interact with the children, families, and nursing staff at the local hospital.
I am extremely grateful to the AAO-HNSF for making this experience possible for me through the Humanitarian Travel Grant. I am eager to continue training and hope that humanitarian efforts and global surgery will be central features of my career in otolaryngology.