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Envoy to Egypt

Urologist Marc Cendron, MD, shares his medical experience and techniques generously and globally to help youngsters in need. The DMS associate professor traveled to Egypt last November as a volunteer with Physicians For Peace. He and five other medical specialists from the United States donated their expertise to treat children suffering from urological problems and teach those who care for them.

It's probably the "most rewarding work I do," he says of his mission which involved updating colleagues on the latest procedures as well as operating on children, many of whom could not otherwise afford surgery.The team saw youngsters ranging in age from a few months to 18 years and some required fairly complicated reconstructive surgery. An important aspect was instruction on follow-up care for patients.

Worldwide, about 25% of all birth defects involve the genital-urinary tract and can lead to serious kidney and bladder damage if untreated, according to Cendron. And in countries like Egypt, the children usually presented challenges because their problems were in later stages than commonly seen in the US.

It is "archeological urology," Cendron says. "Patients came to us there the way they used to come here 30 to 40 years ago and we were doing things doctors did half a century ago."

Cendron is no stranger to global medicine. He volunteered twice for medical missions to Vietnam through another organization, Friendship Bridge, and this was Cendron's second trip to Egypt with PFP, an all-volunteer US organization "established to further world peace and international goodwill by providing quality medical education and health care to those in need." The team worked with physicians in Cairo and lectured on state-of-the-art treatment at a major urology meeting.

The benefits flow two ways. "I learn just as much by seeing how people adapt and work with less," Cendron says, even, "how to make my own practice more efficient." Certainly fewer resources make for differences. For instance, instead of four sutures that are the US standard for a urology technique, Cendron's counterparts overseas who need to conserve suture materials use two, just as successfully. Moreover, the camaraderie of the volunteer specialists who are also colleagues enhances interactions for consultation and gives fresh insight on problems.

The goal of PFP is to offer long-term solutions beyond immediate and acute care situations, and to foster close working relations with the professionals of the host country. In the last few years, Cendron has noticed the increasing prevalence of English by physicians worldwide. Now, thanks to the Internet, he can maintain links with his international colleagues to continue to offer consultation and help keep them updated.

Back to DMS Digest for January/February 2001