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Inez native, orthopedic surgeon readies for Nepal, needs help for mission

By JR Ortega
May 31, 2010 at 12:31 a.m.

Dr. Amanda Marshall

Dr. Amanda Marshall

SAN ANTONIO - These days, Dr. Amanda Marshall keeps busy performing orthopedic surgeries and conducting research in San Antonio.

But as if that weren't enough, the Inez native has decided to take her practice even farther in September - to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Marshall has joined four other female orthopedic surgeons in the U.S. to form Women Orthopedist Global Outreach, a nonprofit volunteer medical organization that is also a new team within Operation Walk, a 16-year volunteer medical service organization that provides free surgical treatment in developing countries for patients who have no access to health care for arthritis and other bone and joint conditions.

"Providing any type of health care is just so far above anything they have ever imagined," Marshall said in a phone interview. "To see their kind of joy, that's one of the wonderful joys about being a physician."

At least 85 percent of people in Nepal do not have access to health care, Marshall added.

Before becoming a surgeon and going to medical school, Marshall made a trip to Russia and volunteered at a hospital.

It was that trip that reinforced the drive and ambition to want to do more mission trips in the future, she said.

"It was totally moving and inspiring," she said. "What I found there was that the patients were so appreciative despite their limited financial needs. They were always very giving."

What makes the WoGo group so different is that it is made up of women who are geared toward reconstructing on women, she said.

Less than 5 percent of all orthopedic surgeons are women, Marshall added.

The group has already made a pre-trip visit to Nepal to see where they will be working and to screen patients who will receive knee replacements.

Marshall and the four other women on her team have already begun to streamline the supplies and instruments needed for the trip, she said.

At least 9,000 pounds of supplies are needed to perform the surgeries in the best way possible, she said.

Among the surgeries will be 71 knee replacements, she said.

In order to provide the best health care they can give, the team has to get along well, which she said is not a problem.

"We know each professionally and know each other personally," she said. "We have so many things in common that we get along quite well."

However, there is a bigger mission than just helping out a country with little health care, Marshall said.

It's about educating the students at Kathmandu Medical College, where they will perform their surgeries, about health care and orthopedics, she said.

Marshall can hardly wait for the inaugural mission trip, she said.

"We have soft spots in our hearts for caring for women," she said about the group.



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