News Release

Most Valuable Gift Shared Across International Borders

Humanitarian missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints help bring crucial training, skills, and equipment to hospitals in Cambodia with the help of doctors and medical staff from the Center for Global Surgery from the USA.

ដើម្បីអានជាភាសាខ្មែរ សូមចុច នៅទីនេះ

A team of doctors and medical staff from the University of Utah's Center for Global Surgery arrived at the Kampong Cham Provincial Hospital in Cambodia on February 19, 2023. They shared their greatest gift -- the gift of knowledge -- by volunteering their time in a project to teach and train doctors and staff in Cambodia on how to do laparoscopic surgeries. The project was made possible with collaboration and help through donations from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For the 1.2 million people of the Kampong Cham province, this is the only major hospital. The new knowledge and training the local doctors and medical staff at the hospital received are significant. Before this training and new equipment, surgeries at the hospital were performed with large open incisions. The patients required long hospital stays and recovery times, placing patients at greater risk of complications. Now patients are released from the hospital much earlier with fewer blood clots, fewer infections, and less pain.   

Yom Sokha, aged 48, the recipient of the first laparoscopic surgery in Kampong Cham said, “I can’t afford to be sick. I am a farmer and I care for my three grandchildren”. Yom shared that she was no longer in pain and was able to return home two days after her laparoscopic surgery. Her doctor stated that with open surgery, she would not have returned home for seven to 10 days, and had a much longer recovery time before she could return to work. 

Thon Vanny, aged 57, who also underwent laparoscopic surgery said, “I feel normal now and I have very little pain”. Thon said that it was important that she return home as soon as possible to resume her work and to watch her two grandchildren whom she cares for while her daughter works. Both patients had been living with pain for years and were reluctant to have the surgeries previously, due to the lengthy recovery time.

The project first started with Cambodia Health Improvement Effort (CHIE) missionaries from the Church, Dr. Ron and Kiem Anderson, who helped get the wheels in motion. Their roles were succeeded by missionary couple Elder Mike and Sister Tanya Chandler, who helped complete the project and will continue to assist in managing it. The Church donated the necessary operating room equipment, laparoscopic instruments as well as training equipment to the Kampong Cham Hospital. 

The Center's doctors, nurses, and staff donated their own time to travel to Cambodia to share their gift of knowledge in improving healthcare and the lives of those who needed surgery. The trip to Cambodia for the Utah doctors and staff was complex. The instruction was well planned with a standardized training program created from experience, data, and research. Additionally, training equipment, new surgical equipment, machines, and instruments were delivered before the team’s arrival. Dr. Raymond Price, the vice chair of Global Affairs, Department of Surgery at the University of Utah said, “The scope of this project is significant and will be far-reaching in the years to come. This project allows long-term sustainability and local access to quality surgical care. The whole healthcare system is benefitted through minimally invasive surgery." Pursuant to this project, the local doctors will have greater skills, better equipment, and procedures and can treat more patients who will spend less time in the hospital, with fewer complications making more efficient use of limited hospital space. 

The laparoscopic project is not the first time the Church has been involved with the Kampong Cham Hospital. 

Kampong Cham Hospital training February 2023, Cambodia.
Kampong Cham Hospital training February 2023, Cambodia.
Dr. Angel Huidobro enters data for research in Cambodia in February 2023.© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Through the efforts of the humanitarian missionaries, the Church has donated an endoscopy tower and related apparatus, as well as large generators, and other equipment to help provide stable and reliable power, which is necessary to operate the sensitive apparatus. 

Local doctors Khvat Pho and Suy Borin said regarding their experience in receiving training, “We are so grateful for the knowledge and training we received and the equipment which was donated to make this training and experience possible. We can now treat people here at this hospital and they do not need to travel to Phnom Penh, which is hours away.” 

The humanitarian efforts of the Church focus on relieving suffering, fostering self-reliance, and providing opportunities for service for people around the world. Dr. Price shared a quote from Edna Adan Ismail that summarizes this project and the efforts of the Church to help bless the lives of those in need: “Knowledge is the most valuable gift we can give to our people and pass on to future generations.”

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