Global Activism: Chicago doctor performs free gynaecology surgeries across the globe

March 14, 2013


For our Global Activism segment, Chicagoan Dr. Nicole Williams has traveled to many countries including the Dominican Republic and Cambodia, doing necessary gyne surgeries (prolapse of uterus, family planning) for patients who otherwise can't afford them. She’ll tell us about the work she’s done with Medical Ministry International, a faith-based organization which does surgical, medical, dental, and eye care across the globe.

Learn more about Nicole Williams' work at the 2013 Global Activism Expo (April 6)!




Dr. Williams wrote about her stint in Cambodia, October 2012:

It is hot.  Not the hot that we endure during any particular Chicago summer, but an unrelenting heat that sears your very soul.  The people are beautiful, short, and proud.  After you get used to the heat, you almost miss it when you reach the operating room — one of the few places cooler than 88 degrees.

We arrived to our hospital to find the clinic packed with eager waiting patients, most with x-rays, ultrasounds and bloodwork in hand.  We rolled up our sleeves and called the first patient — a 58 year old whose uterus had fallen low 10 years ago.  She could not sit, so she stood.  We examined, omitting most of the small talk (how's that new addition to our house?) we usually do.  She was told to be NPO (no food or water after midnight) and to come back the next day.  We saw eight women that day.  Some we scheduled, others, we told to come back.

We then moved to check out the O.R., which we found in pretty good shape, only needing a good scrub down and supplies.  We only had one working overhead light, so we wore headlamps like miners.  The surgeries moved like clockwork —they walk in, our translator again explains as they take their place on the table, and they are put to sleep.  We work, fixing problems that you never see in the United States.  The next day, they are up and walking, families staying overnight under mosquito nets with them, feeding them, caring for them.  The local nurses only come if you pay them.

We made rounds on our patient. She closed her legs and crossed them for the first time in 10 years, her obstruction to such activity now vanquished.  She thanked us, smiled, and left on the back of a scooter with two other family members, riding sidesaddle.