Students assist in overseas operations

Kaitlin Clark, Entertainment Editor

Usually, assisting in a surgery is a distant dream for medically-inclined teenagers, but for two Manhattan High students, this dream became a reality.

Juniors Maeve Tanona and Maddie Purdom were given the opportunity to travel to Haiti last week to work with trained medical professionals to provide free surgeries to those suffering from a variety of ailments. While there, they worked with three doctors, assisting in any way needed. This rare opportunity provided them with hands-on experience they would typically have to wait years to obtain while simultaneously helping people who would normally not have access to that level of surgical care.

“Some had been living with physical deformity and illnesses for years,” Purdom said. “To be a part of their healing process was the best experience a person could have because you know that you improved their life directly.”

While the goal of their trip was to help others, participants also gained experience that will benefit them in their future careers, should they choose to enter the medical field.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to bond with people from all over,” Tanona said. “Our medical team was such a fantastic group and everyone was really easy to work with. Everyone was so positive and kind, and it was also a great experience for me because of my plan to follow the medical career path.”

Students worked with the doctors in a variety of ways, including bringing them tools during the operations and even scrubbing in, or actively participating, for the surgery itself.

“Before the surgeries took place, I would go into the examination room and meet the people who had waited through most of the night and morning for a chance to be helped,” Purdom said. “It surprised me how they had so much patience.”

Although travelling to another country may be a nerve-wracking experience, participants took it in stride.

“Going to a different country can be terrifying because you don’t know what to expect,” Purdom said. “But if you put yourself in a situation that has these risks, you will get to experience the joy of meeting new people that do things completely different from you.”

Through their work with doctors, students were given the opportunity to save lives while also gaining a new appreciation for their own.

“It really changed my perspective on everything,” Tanona said. “And I’ve realized how much I’ve taken for granted in my life.”