2 orthopedic surgeons on the life-changing experience of volunteering

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Michael Redler, MD, and Scott Sigman, MD, are two orthopedic surgeons who are part of One World Surgery, a charitable organization that provides orthopedic surgery.

The two surgeons recently connected with Becker's to share the positive impact One World Surgery has on both their patients and themselves, and their involvement with the organization.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: What drives your involvement and commitment with One World Surgery?

Dr. Michael Redler: I've been an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine for a number of years and I feel very lucky to do what I've been able to do with my career. I think that it's our responsibility to be able to use those skills in terms of taking care of patients and in terms of surgery to give back. In a country like Honduras or the Dominican Republic, the level of healthcare is nowhere near what we have available to us in the U.S. and so our ability to be able to give back to help those most in need is something that not only do I get great pride and satisfaction of doing but I think it's what we're supposed to be doing.

Dr. Scott Sigman: In the U.S. we take our healthcare for granted, and we have access to a doctor anytime we want. In Honduras in particular, these people are some of the most deserving of health care but yet have severe restrictions to access. There are 11,000 patients that are on the wait list for surgery in Honduras at this one surgical facility. By participating in this surgery center and with One World Surgery, we are providing healthcare to some of the most needy patients on the planet and giving them world-class healthcare.

Q: How can other healthcare professionals or organizations make a positive impact on global healthcare?

MR: I think most importantly it's not just medical professionals. There are general volunteers that go down that help turn over the rooms and make some projects with the kids that live on the ranch, so there's a lot of opportunity even if you're not a medical professional to help out there. I can tell medical professionals of any kind that there are some studies that suggest that sometimes you'll talk about medical professionals that start to go through burnout because of stress and the hours that you work, and there's some suggestion that doing these kinds of medical missions probably helps to really sort of rejuvenate these individuals.

SS: My experience with One World Surgery was one of the most profound moments in my professional career. It's one thing to be able to care for patients as a healer, it's another to be able to provide care for those that need it the most that do not have access. I would recommend, without reservation, to any doctor or healthcare provider that wants to make a difference on the planet that this will be one of the greatest experiences of their career.

Q: What is a memorable experience or patient success story that stands out from your time with One World Surgery?

MR: I once treated a 17-year-old boy who couldn't straighten his knee and had torn his ACL and waited two years for surgery. It was a very difficult surgery, but we were able to get his ACL reconstructed and repaired. He was finally able to walk again normally after two years of having a bent knee and was just so grateful. He was hoping he could get better so that maybe he could play soccer with his friends and finish high school.

SS: We had a young woman, probably in her 30s, that had dislocated her shoulder around 20 times. She was on the list for surgery and she got the call. She walked two and a half hours to get to the bus and then took a five hour bus ride to our center to arrive for her surgery that day. She was scheduled to be one of the last patients of the day and she had become significantly dehydrated and we could not get an IV into this patient. Rather than sending her home and just saying come back and we'll try and do this for you, the center accommodated her overnight, which they don't routinely do. We hydrated her up and then the following morning we were able to put an IV into her and Dr. Redler and I performed an arthroscopic surgery to stabilize her shoulder and helped to change this woman's life. The concerted effort on everyone's part to be able to care for that single patient has stuck with me forever and is an incredible motivational moment in my life.

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