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Friday, January 24th – While this trip is over, the Journey is still going forward

In the past 6 days Team Valsad 2014 has settled into our home away from home and our work away from work with our new friends at Kasturba Hospital. It is hard to believe our time here for now has come to a close. Working together with the staff at the hospital this surgical camp was able to perform 216 cases and touch many lives.

As always on these trips, the last day was a whirlwind of activity. We wrapped up 14 surgeries around noon today (5 diagnostic laparoscopies, 2 hernia repairs, 1 excision of keloid scar, 5 hydrocele repairs and a burn scar revision with skin graft), snapped many photos with our new friends, and packed up our equipment bags. Much time was spent sorting and counting instruments to take home as well as reviewing supplies with the hospital that we could leave for their use.

As part of the final day’s activities, we were honored with a luncheon at the home of Satish Vithalani, one of our supporters. One of the highlights of the tour was the opportunity to visit a room that was designed and furnished to accommodate Mahatma Ghandi, who spent quite a bit of time here. The room has been left as a tribute and memorial to this great man. His spinning wheel is exactly where he left it, as is a pair of his glasses on the low desk in his room. His famous words “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” could well be a mantra for many of us in Operation Medical and our reason to continue to provide surgical care around the globe.

After lunch we returned to Kasturba Hospital for a final formal farewell with the staff. Mary Jensik, our executive director, gave a lovely heartfelt thank you speech on behalf of Operation Medical and the Kasturba administration presented each team member with a lovely memento engraved with the details of the trip. Our group offered its thanks with standing ovations for the many local nurses and physicians who were an integral part of our mission efforts. In particular, Dr N Desai, a general surgeon who was greatly involved in the pre-trip screening and concurrent care of patients, and who accepted the great responsibility of postoperative care after our departure, was acknowledged for all of his efforts and hard work. After hugs and last goodbyes, the team headed back to our hotel – some to prepare for departure home that evening, some to head out for some R&R and a group remained to spend a couple days seeing the sites of India with a trip to Goa.

We will forever hold this trip as a treasure in our hearts and Kasturba Hospital and Operation Medical will stay in communication to review the status of our patients.

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