Phlebology Pros Embark on a Humanitarian Trip to Ecuador

by VEIN Staff

The American College of Phlebology and the French Society of Phlebology have teamed up to support Amigos de Salud, a humanitarian non-profit organization that brings medical services to the underprivileged of Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The organization's name means "Friends of Health", and volunteer phlebology professionals from both France and the United States made plans to provide vein care procedures in Ecuador this past summer. Nick Morrison, M.D. of the Arizona-based Morrison Vein Institute organized and led the trip.

Morrison founded Amigos de Salud after learning of the need for medical services in Central and South America from physician Zorayda Figueroa of Ecuador, whom he met in 1998 while working in a clinic in northern Mexico. Since then, he has traveled at least once a year with his wife – Terri, a registered nurse – and other medical volunteers, with Figueroa coordinating the in-country logistics for the group. About 90 volunteer specialists currently work with Amigos de Salud from fields such as general medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic surgery, and gastroenterology. The nonprofit organization performs hundreds of diagnostic and surgical procedures, and this summer’s effort focused on sharing the advancements of phlebology with the indigent populations of Ecuador.

“Our goals for our trip this summer were to see and treat over 500 patients with severe venous insufficiency over the course of seven days, including many patients, with ulcerations and severe lipodermatosclerotic changes and edema,” Morrison explained. “These indigent patients in Ecuador have virtually no access to medical care of any kind, let alone for treatment of what is essentially benign, if debilitating, venous disease.”

The ACP and others in the phlebology industry are supporting Amigos de Salud’s current trip through both financial and in-kind donations. Bauerfeind, Biolitec, JUZO, BSN Medical, STD Pharmaceutical Products Ltd., Vascular Solutions Inc., Medi, VNUS Medical Technologies Inc., Bioniche and Venosan are among the nonprofit organization’s corporate sponsors. Morrison said donations of medical equipment and money are needed on an ongoing basis and noted that all volunteer physicians, nurses and technicians pay for their own airfare and hotel expenses unless the nonprofit is able to raise enough money to assist with travel expenses, which total approximately $2,000 per person each year. One hundred percent of contributions go directly to the volunteer effort.

Dr. Morrison said in addition to the immense gratification that comes from their altruistic endeavors, the medical professionals enjoy working side-by-side with an elite team of experts from many different specialties. The opportunity to practice what he calls "pure medicine," unrestricted by any difficult health care system red-tape, is a breath of fresh air. "There is very little paperwork there, and we are completely unfettered," he said. "It's a heck of a lot of fun." Morrison adds, "The people there will tell us what a wonderful thing we're doing, but I'm not sure who gets more out of it -- us or them."

For information about volunteering with or donating to Amigos de Salud, contact Morrison at [email protected] or call the ACP at (510) 346-6800.