Non-profits giving worldwide medical aid

May 20, 2009 11:56:37 AM PDT
A couple of Bay Area non-profit organizations are using the concept of sharing to help people around the world. A few local donations are helping save a lot of lives worldwide.

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"Everybody has the same needs, if their things are broken and not working, they just want things fixed," said MedLend founder Dr. Henry Hamilton M.D.

And fixing, or helping people, is Dr. Hamilton's passion. Aside from delivering more than 4,000 babies over the past quarter-century, this San Mateo obstetrician-gynecologist also founded MedLend.

"I gave birth to an organization here," said Dr. Hamilton.

This non-profit started nearly a decade ago as a way to purchase and loan out medical equipment for other groups to use on medical missions. Now MedLend also carries out its own healthcare work in impoverished countries.

"We doing a lot of PR work for the United States and we're helping," said Dr. Hamilton.

From the Philippines to Peru, Dr. Hamilton and a team of other Bay Area doctors and nurses volunteer by sometimes performing up to 100 surgeries during week-long missions, improving and saving lives.

"We took out her tumor, she was back at work and she really came up and gave us a hug and said thank you, you know, and that kind of stuff really makes it worthwhile," said Dr. Hamilton.

Dr. Hamilton says his team gets assistance from another Bay Area non-profit called MedShare International. This charitable organization has a huge warehouse in San Leandro where doctors can pick up free medical supplies for their missions.

"In 2008 we had over 230 medical teams that were provisioned up," said Chuck Haupt, executive director of MedShare.

Haupt says MedShare opened the West Coast facility last year to offer local hospitals and healthcare companies an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way to recycle their unused medical supplies and equipment.

"Over the past decade that MedShare has been in operation in both our Atlanta operation and then here in the East Bay, we have diverted over one million cubic feet out of landfills," said Haupt.

Literally tons of surplus, everything from wheelchairs to syringes and gauze are instead donated, packaged and then distributed, to medical mission teams, to Bay Area community clinics and also shipped abroad to help save lives.

MedShare currently has about 300 pieces of donated medical equipment, everything from cardiac defibrilators to a mammography x-ray unit, and all of these pieces will be donated to needy hospitals and clinics around the world.

"We put it into an ocean-going container and ship it out of the Port of Oakland," said Haupt.

For more information on how to donate or volunteer:

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