Tuesday, May 29, 2007


On Sunday evening there was a TV programme on ABC2 about a woman from Melbourne who is doing wonderful work travelling to Albania (?) to find children who do not have the wherewithal to have corrective surgery for horrific disfigurements.

She arranges for them to be brought back to Australia or the U.S. and after rehabilitation, back to their families. The show followed the return of the kids to somewhat varied welcome from their parents. I guess the results are not always as good as expected.

I had a similar thing happen when I taught in the Sepik District of Papua New Guinea in the 1970s. One of my students had elephantiasis (Lymphatic Filariasis) in one leg. His leg was huge and he had difficulty walking. I heard on the radio that a team of Australian surgeons were on their way to Port Moresby to do corrective surgery on PNG nationals. I contacted Port Moresby General Hospital and the lad was accepted into the programme. He was flown to Port Moresby and the surgery was carried out there.

The district Medical Assistant (often called Medical Assassin) heard of my plan and gave me a fair bit of grief because I didn’t go through him. He didn’t talk to me again.

When the lad returned from Port Moresby, students gathered around to see his leg. He was ashamed of it. From the foot up to the knee was a complete success, but at the knee it ballooned out again and looked very strange. The lad was angry with me and the surgeons.

Sometimes even the best intentions are not good enough.

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