Dr. O’Grady recently returned from a medical mission trip to Ecuador where he had the opportunity to work with Fundacion LaVida. Check out the interview below to hear more about his experience!
Why did you visit Ecuador?
A local organization from Fairhope, Alabama organizes several trips a year to Fundacion LaVida. It is an orthopedic clinic in Puertoviejo, Ecuador. They do a fantastic job of delivering high-quality orthopedic care to hundreds of patients each year. They do it with the help of many volunteers from all aspects of Orthopaedics. I volunteer my surgical services as part of this effort.
Tell us about the people and culture that you had the opportunity to interact with.
The people are absolutely amazing. As you might expect, in a developing country they are not nearly as privileged as we are with respect to the daily comforts of life, not to mention the availability of medical care. Nonetheless, they are incredibly resilient and impressively optimistic. The patients, the local staff, the local physicians that help with the effort are all inspirational to the rest of us and make the hard-working days go by quickly. Dr. Fellers and his wife Flor, who founded the clinic, lead by example every step of the way.
What was the most unique experience during your time in Ecuador?
I really enjoy Latin American cultures in general. They have a very positive outlook on life that is grounded in Christian fundamentals. They certainly know how to enjoy life as well! On this most recent trip, we were able to go to World Cup friendly soccer game which was an amazing experience. We were also able to experience some of the renowned wildlife when a Galapagos sea turtle after crawled up on the beach in front of where we were staying on Sunday afternoon and laid a bunch of eggs. I’m a nature freak so it was really special for me.
What did you learn about yourself as an orthopaedic surgeon on this trip?
The whole experience I find humbling. It’s challenging for me because I don’t have the typical comforts of my operating room here in Florida, but I am still challenged to give the patients the best possible care. At the same time, it’s really inspirational to see the effort being put forth by those around me. It’s an extremely fulfilling experience.
When are you going next?
Soon I hope. The biggest challenge right now is being able to disappear for nine or 10 days from a busy practice and busy family. I certainly hope to be able to do more of this later in my career, but for now, I’ll be happy if I can go once a year.
The non-profit organization that helps funds these trips is Bayside Medical Missions. If you’re interested in making a donation for future mission trips, please check out the link here: https://www.baysidemedicalmissions.org/giving. Your donations help improve the lives of many and are appreciated more than you know!