When I woke up this morning, I realized  with dismay, that I had only 3 antimalarial pills left:  my trip was almost over! A trip to India was not in my plans this year. However, when the opportunity presented itself to travel abroad as an anesthesiologist with Rotoplast, I couldn’t say no.

I am currently an anesthesiology and critical care fellow at Stanford University Hospital.  I am fortunate that my mentor, Fred Mihm, invited me to come along on this mission. It has been eye opening, exhausting, fun, and most definitely rewarding. Everyday I am  part of changing lives.

The surgeries take only around an hour or so, on average.  The cases, from a medical standpoint, are not dangerous, nor complex, but they are significant. They are life-changing. One hour of our time spares a child from constant ridicule and  a lifetime of feeling isolated and less-than. It affords them the opportunity to function normally within society, to go to school, to get married, to have children and to live life with their heads held high. I feel privileged to be able to use my training to give so many kids a chance at life.

It has also amazed me how gracious our hosts from the Rotary have been. We are so well taken care of. We are never without (great!) food, fresh water, and a clean and comfortable place to sleep at the end of a long day.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, our last operating day of the mission. We have 10 cases scheduled. Instead of eating  turkey, I will be eating curry. Instead of lounging on the couch and watching football,  I will be in the operating room. Ten lives will be changed tomorrow. For that I am thankful.

Leslie Hall, MD, Anesthesiologist