From Tuesday, February 23 through Tuesday, March 1, NSVI conducted its 14th Philippines Vasectomy Mission. The 2015 Philippines Mission Team had such a rewarding experience that 7 of 10 claimed their places on the 2016 Team even before the 2015 mission was over. For the 2016 mission, physicians and support staff arrived from three continents and had more countries of origin than we could easily count. Behind the scenes, the NSVI Board of Directors and the Philippines Domestic Team had done months of work to pave the way for this successful mission.
Two additional physicians this year were Dr. John Benedict Abaño, a Family Medicine Physician from Seattle with special surgical experience in organ transplantation, and Dr. John Curington, the NSVI Education Director and a veteran of previous NSVI missions in the Philippines, Kenya, and Haiti.
We were also fortunate to have a tip-top team of visiting assistants, the majority of whom were with us in 2015. Dr. Lucy Demediuk brought dual skills both as assistant and physician, and Iwona Kulik from Poland joined us as a first-time participant in 2016.
This year, we started in Cebu at Sacred Heart Hospital. Elizabeth Davis and Dr. Sarah Miller, from the Institute for Family Health in the Bronx, walked by the hospital the day before to check out the preparations that the domestic team had already been making. Here they examine the banner placed at the main entrance to the hospital.
Day 1 – Sacred Heart Hospital in Cebu
The team got right to work setting up the operating room in Cebu. Felicity, Lucy, and Nick Demediuk, our returning Australian team, set up their flag and got ready for procedures.
Dr. Abaño, though this was his first trip with NSVI, showed his skills right away. The team appreciated his good cheer and his facility and fluency with Tagalog, one of the main languages spoken in the Philippines.
Since much of the team has worked at Sacred Heart Hospital, they were able to get going right away. Here Dr. Curington preps a patient with antiseptic solution.
Day 2 – Sacred Heart Hospital and then ferry to Hilongos
On Day 2, the NSVI team continued with vasectomies at Sacred Heart Hospital. The exchange of ideas was fantastic. Here Dr. Ramon Suarez helps in a case with Dr. John Benedict Abaño.
After a long day in the operating team, the team prepared for the next city. Here Dr. Stein and Dr. Abaño load into a mini-van to meet the night ferry to the island of Leyte.
The team files down into the hull and explores the accommodations on the ferry.
Lucy Demediuk and Elizabeth Davis cheerfully make the best of the somewhat crowded conditions.
The journey from Cebu to Hilongos crosses the Camotes Sea. Dr. Suarez told us stories of crossing this sea to visit his home island when he was in medical school years ago.
Day 3 – Vasectomies in Hilongos and then ferry back to Cebu
By the time the sun rose, the ferry had safely delivered the team to the Hilongos port on the island of Leyte.
Though only a few of the team got seasick, it was still a welcome relief to see the Gloria Three safely at dock.
Our amazing advance team of organizers had already hung banners in Hilongos announcing the free services.
Steven Shu, John Benedict Abaño, Elizabeth Davis and Sarah Miller walk to clinic from the ferry in the gentle morning light. The city was just starting to wake up…
Dr. Benita Kiamco counsels a patient in Hilongos and makes sure his questions are answered before his vasectomy.
Dr. Stein and Dr. Abaño get right to work in Hilongos. Here they perform a no-scalpel vasectomy while the patient relaxes quite comfortably.
Day 4 – Sacred Heart Hospital and Cebu City Jail
Back at Sacred Heart Hospital, the Dr. Jay Sandlow and Dr. Sarah Miller set up the operating room again and got ready for more vasectomies.
Sarah Miller and Elizabeth Davis, who work together in New York City also, brought their joyful camaraderie to the operating room in Cebu.
On day 4, part of the team went to the jail to provide free vasectomies to the inmates. Here a team of Cebuano-speaking counselors discuss the procedure with potential patients.
Day 5 – Lectures at Southwestern University and more vasectomies…
The NSVI team started Day 5 with lectures and discussions at Southwestern University in Cebu. Here Dr. Ramon Suarez, the Founder and President of NSVI, commands the room at his old Alma Mater.
Each year NSVI has enjoyed giving talks to the medical students at Southwestern University and the students have been cheerful and enthusiastic.
This year we had special guests at Southwestern – Dr. Jonathan David “Jondi” Flavier, Dr. Glenn Roy Paraso, and Dr. Benedicto “Buboy” Garcia. These three dedicated physicians from Manila came to exchange information with us about growing vasectomy programs in the Philippines.
After the lectures, the NSVI team was able to share ideas and techniques with Dr. Garcia and Dr. Paraso in the operating rooms in Sacred Heart Hospital.
Here Dr. Paraso experiments with a rubber scrotal model designed to make practicing vasectomies safer before moving onto patients. Click here to download a pdf file of an article describing the details of the model.
Here Dr. Stein explains the care of the Madajet, a device that sprays anesthetic into the skin of a patient without the use of a needle. Dr. Stein donated a Madajet to the Manila team so they could bring No-Needle anesthesia into their practice.
Dr. Stein also donated a pair of the Bovie thermocautery wands so the Manila team would have access to reliable intraluminal cautery. We remembered the generosity of Rob Saron from Bovie for providing these useful instruments.
Day 6 – a little rest on the Philippine Sea
On Sunday the operating rooms were closed, so the team took some needed rest by cruising around the Philippine Sea on a traditional dual-outrigger boat.
Dr. Curington explores the underwater life in the Philippine Sea.
Dr. Stein underwater amongst the fish.
The NSVI team was delighted to be hosted at the Casino Español de Cebu by the generosity of Dr. Alex Lemkaking, a Filipino-American urologist from Maryland. During dinner we learned more about the racially diverse history of the Philippines. Filipino history reflects many years of interactions with other Pacific islands, China, Spain, and the United States.
Enjoying the evening at the Casino Español de Cebu. The team actually looks quite stylish in clothes other than scrubs…
Day 7 – Media Event and Vasectomies in Danao
On day 7 the team spread the message even further by visiting the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Company. ABS-CBN is the oldest television broadcaster in Southeast Asia and is the leading television network in the Philippines.
Dr. Ramon Suarez explains vasectomy and the NSVI services in Cebuano, the local language of the Visayas.
Dr. Lucy Demediuk with our broadcast host.
Dr. John Curington explains vasectomy from the point of view of a physician who has had a vasectomy himself.
Dr. Curington on the air.
After the media event, the NSVI team continued north to Danao, a coastal city of over 100,000 inhabitants known for its manufacturing of guns. We were welcomed there at the Cebu Provincial Hospital, Danao City branch.
Dr. Suarez and Dr. Miller arrive to start setting up in the Cebu Provincial Hospital in Danao.
The team set up and got right to work. The exchange of information was fantastic. Here Dr. John Curington performs a vasectomy and receives wise advice from Dr. Jay Sandlow.
Dr. John Benedict Abaño performs a vasectomy and explains the procedure to a student in Danao.
As often happens in international medical work, the team met interesting colleagues. Maria and Matilde, nursing students from Denmark, had traveled across the globe to further their medical education and to experience a different model of healthcare.
We had great support. Again in Danao, Bob Kiamco, chairman of NSVI, does pre-vasectomy counseling in Cebuano, the local language of the Visayas.
Dr. Jay Sandlow performing vasectomy while Maria, the Danish nursing student looks on to learn.
We would be lost without the competence and good cheer of our Filipino team. Myrna and Rosemyrn kept us going in so many ways.
Here the Danish students in Danao learn more about vasectomy by accessing the vasa using a rubber scrotal model.
Dr Nick Demediuk, known as “Dr. Snip” in Australia, expertly performs another vasectomy in Danao.
Day 8 – Vasectomies at Sacred Heart Hospital and Cebu City Jail, and then a farewell dinner…
The NSVI team returned to Sacred Heart Hospital in Cebu and the exchanges continued. Here Dr. Curington observes the technique of Dr. Steven Shu.
Dr. Ron Weiss observes while Dr. Lucy Demediuk and Dr. John Curington perform yet another vasectomy.
Part of the team also returned to the Cebu City Jail where free vasectomies were offered again.
Our support team kept up the hard work till the end. Frohnie Cagalitan, Elizabeth Davis, and Benita Kiamco were all integral to the mission.
After a final vigorous day of work, the team enjoyed a farewell meal of traditional Filipino food in Cebu.
Here John Benedict Abaño celebrates with Frohnie Cagalitan and her husband Edgar.
Myrna Danuco and Rosaulo relax at the end of work well done.
Elizabeth Davis receives her certificate of appreciation.
Dr. Nicholas Demediuk receives his certificate of appreciation.
Frohnie Cagalitan celebrates with her husband Edgar and Jay Sandlow.
Friends and family say goodbyes…
Dr. Steven Shu and Dr. John Benedict Abaño.
Dr. Jay Sandlow, Dr. John Benedict Abaño, and Dr. Nicholas Demediuk.
Our last meeting together until the next mission…