August 4, 2005

By Masaleen Sehpin
The Kaselehlie Press

Four volunteers from Interplast Australia were recently on Pohnpei to conduct plastic surgery operations for the residents of Pohnpei. Interplast Australia is a non profit organisation founded in 1983 as a partnership between the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Rotary International. Interplast Australia provides voluntary medical teams to developing countries who carry out plastic and reconstructive surgery. Funding is provided from AusAID's Regional Tertiary Health Services project, which started in September 2001 and is due to finish in September 2006. AusAID has committed approximately 8 million Australian dollars for this project doing thirty-two trips per year in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The four Interplast team members arrived on Pohnpei on Friday, July 29, 2005. They are surgeons Russell Corleit and Mark Ashton, anesthesiologist Bronwyn Webster, and Nurse Linda Ferguson. Before arriving on Pohnpei, the team spent a week in Chuuk State doing plastic surgery operations and Corleit said they conducted operations on about fifty individuals in Chuuk.

Arriving on Pohnpei on Friday, the team met with the Australian Ambassador during the weekend and Ashton said the Ambassador is committed to assisting the FSM and its people. The team started operations on Monday, August 1, 2005. The team stays until Thursday, August 4, 2005 and then departs for Australia.

The KP has met with the team on Monday morning and by then the team already met with 20 individuals who would later become patients in their operating rooms. Surgeon Ashton said they were given space enough to work with as many patients as they could within their short stay period.

Their short stay was this team's first visit to Pohnpei and they all agree that Pohnpei is a beautiful Island. Interplast Australia provided the funding for the operations (surgery and dressing) and the operation is free. Patients will not spend a penny to receive the services. The team looks forward to helping as many patients as possible and they hope many people in Pohnpei will come in to take advantage of the free service, which include bad scars, lumps, split lips and other problems that need a surgeons attention.