Twenty-nine southern Colorado residents will go under the knife on Saturday, and none of them will pay a dime for it. Their routine surgeries are a being given to them free of charge as part of the Third Annual Surgical Day of Giving.
This year, five doctors, two anesthesiologists, a host of nurses and 40 surgical technology students from Colorado Technical University are volunteering their time.
Unlike prior years, patients were chosen through doctor referrals, instead of public screenings. This saved time and insured the patients had a medical problem that could be fixed given the limitations on resources such as appropriate doctors.
There is a drawback, however, to choosing patients this way. Some who are uninsured may not have seen a doctor about their problem, and therefore could not be referred.
Still, much like previous years, a large number of patients were found and will benefit from the operations. "We're removing gall bladders, we're fixing bi-lateral hernias, we're working on ears of different individuals. So they are not easy procedures but they are procedures the person can go home the same day from," says Cameron Allen, a member of the Board of Executives for International Surgical Missions.
It was several years ago, on an ISM trip to Mexico that the idea for the Day of Surgical Giving was conceived. Because the town the doctors were in reminded them so much of Pueblo, and because of the level of support they've received over the years from southern Colorado, they were determined to give back to the community they're from in addition to serving people in need in foreign countries.
Allen says, it's far more expensive to operate a Day of Surgical Giving here in the U.S. than it is to operate in foreign countries. Still, he says, the smiles and thanks he gets here makes it worth it.