Eden Surgeon Makes Mission of Medicine, Education and Community

Posted on Nov 4, 2015

Mimran and friendsOver six days in July, Dr. Ronnie Mimran performed 11 spine surgeries on children in Mbarara, Uganda. The young patients made remarkable recoveries.

“The next day, kids were up, kicking a soccer ball around. The kids are incredibly resilient,” Dr. Mimran recalls. “I left with a deep, deep love of their people. They live with nothing, existing on about 75¢ a day. But I’ve never met a happier population of people.”

Dr. Mimran, a spine surgeon with the Sutter East Bay Neuroscience Institute at Eden Medical Center, was part of the eleventh spinal surgery mission to Uganda by Health Volunteers Overseas. The organization seeks to improve global health by educating healthcare workers in resource-scarce countries. It was Dr. Mimran’s first trip with group.

“The purpose of the mission primarily focused on pediatric deformity of the spine, such as scoliosis,” he explains. Dr. Mimran worked to gather supplies, including a donation from Eden Medical Center, and sent the supplies and equipment in advance of his 12-day mission.

The first day in Mbarara was spent in clinic, where he evaluated 60 patients and scheduled surgeries.

“The hospital in Mbarara is located in an old converted British army base. It was very poorly lit with rolling blackouts,” Dr. Mimran says. “It was devoid of basic medical equipment and supplies, so we had to ship almost everything we needed—drills, implants, meds, drapes, surgical equipment.”

The hospital also lacks a spine surgeon, so he trained the hospital’s physicians and staff, enabling them to improve care to their community.

Dr. Mimran came away with a better appreciation of what physicians can do with little equipment.

“It’s essentially in our hands,” he says. “I think it makes you a better surgeon when you learn to do more with less.”

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