Vice-President and Co-Founder of Women for World Health, Dr. Amy G. Wandel became involved with medical missions in 1989. Dr. Wandel spent two years in the Philippines after completing her general surgery residency at U.C. Davis East Bay. As a Navy general surgeon, Dr. Wandel volunteered on multiple medical missions that went into the jungles surrounding the military base. These medical teams were made up of military and civilian personnel whose purpose was to seek out small villages of native people in the jungle and provide basic medical care, immunizations and antibiotics to them. These trips often saved lives through immunizations, wound care, antibiotics and nutritional supplements.
In 1990, Dr. Wandel returned to the United States and entered a plastic surgery residency at Brown University. After completing of her residency, Dr. Wandel traveled back to California to work as a plastic surgeon at the Naval Medical Center Oakland. It was during her tenure here that Dr. Wandel went on her first medical mission as a plastic surgeon. She went to Nicaragua to perform reconstructive surgery on children with facial and hand deformities.
“These are the most amazing experiences for me. I take these little children from their parents and repair their cleft lips. Most of these children are looked upon as a curse laid upon the family for past sins. Their families are often cut off from their communities and the children are hidden away. It is so moving for me to make it possible for them to rejoin their world. When the lip is fixed, they too are ‘fixed.’ When I get back from our trips, I cannot wait to go again.”
Dr. Wandel has since been on more than 25 medical missions with multiple organizations and has not only performed the surgeries on these children but taught local surgeons how to do these complex repairs. Now Dr. Wandel is looking towards meeting more of the medical and educational needs of these people in underdeveloped countries. She has joined two other women who share the same vision: that little by little each of us can make the world better and safer by sharing our skills and knowledge with those in need.