UM Surgical Team Heading to Kenya to Treat Patients with Head and Neck Cancer, Other Medical Problems

For immediate release: November 13, 2014

Rodney Taylor, MD, MPH.

Rodney Taylor, MD, MPH

A medical team, led by two University of Maryland surgeons, will travel to Kenya in January to treat dozens of patients with head and neck cancer, thyroid disease and other health problems who have no access to much-needed surgical care.

“We can really make a difference in people’s lives,” says Jeffrey Wolf, MD, who organized the trip with the help of his friend and fellow surgeon, Rodney Taylor, MD, MPH. Drs. Wolf and Taylor are head and neck surgeons who care for patients at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. They are also associate professors of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“The health issues we treat here in Baltimore are the same that people experience in Kenya and throughout the world,” Dr. Taylor says. “We can go over there with our skill set, and we can make people’s lives dramatically better.”

Photo of Doctor Jeffrey S. Wolf, M.D.

Jeffrey S. Wolf, MD

The doctors said that many people in rural Kenya have no access to surgical procedures that the team will be able to perform. Team members will be living and working at a medical clinic in Migori in the western part of the country over a 10-day period in late January and early February.

The clinic is operated by a nonprofit organization, Kenya Relief, which also has a school and orphanage there. Kenya Relief sponsors medical clinics in its 6,000 square-foot clinic and vision center, bringing in medical teams to provide dental care, remove cataracts, repair cleft palates in children and perform other pediatric, head and neck and gynecologic surgeries. The medical team members pay their own way and donate their services. They are raising money to help defray the costs of their trip.

So far, 19 people have signed up for the University of Maryland medical mission. It’s an experienced group of doctors, nurses and surgical technicians who will work well together, Drs. Wolf and Taylor say. They either currently work at University of Maryland or were formerly affiliated with the University of Maryland.

In the short time they are in Kenya, team members will provide complete care – evaluation, diagnosis and surgery – to patients requiring a range of procedures.

“Collaboration is critical when providing this level of care in a foreign place with limited resources,” says Dr. Taylor. “Our team is extremely collaborative anyway, but this will be the ultimate collaboration.”

Team members expect the work to be challenging because of the number of patients and basic operating room facilities, yet very rewarding. “We want to leave an impact that is durable,” says Dr. Taylor, a globe-trotting veteran of other medical missions to countries such as India, Cambodia and Haiti.

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