By: Ashley Bergner, The Newton Kansan, Published June 26, 2014
In her blog describing her experiences volunteering at a hospital in Jordan, Newton Medical Center’s Dr. Susan Lovelle reflects on the stark contrast between her work as a plastic surgeon in the United States and her work as a volunteer with Syrian refugees.
“Almost all are peppered with shrapnel wounds, even the little children,” she said. “It seems it is common for buckets of metallic debris mixed with explosives to be dropped into populations — at the very least causing multiple small, deep injuries, and at the worst — at least for those who survived — eyes, hands and legs being shattered or blown off.”
Lovelle wanted to bring hope to these refugees during a time of tragedy, traveling as a volunteer to Amman, Jordan, with the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the Life Enhancement Association of People, a Christian plastic surgery association. Lovelle practices at Lovelle Plastic Surgery on the NMC campus and treated injured refugees from Syria during her recent medical mission trip to Jordan.
“It really helped to know that people do care, outside of their country,” Lovelle said. “It’s good for them to know that we’re there, and we’ll come as long as they need us.”
Violence in the Middle Eastern nation of Syria has led to an exodus of more than 2.5 million refugees, fleeing to neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan.
Before traveling to Jordan, Lovelle attended a training session in Dallas to prepare her for what she would encounter during her mission trip. She said this was her first time to visit the region and to experience the culture. She saw a variety of attire in Jordan — from traditional turbans and long robes to modern dress — and said the people pray five times a day. The mosques have a caller who uses an amplified microphone to call everyone to prayer — even at 4 a.m.
“It amazed me, they get up and go to prayer at 3, 4 in the morning, then go to work,” Lovelle said.
She found the culture to be generous and hospitable, and staff at the hospital made sure she sat down between cases and had a cup of tea. Most in the hospital were able to speak English.
The Syrian refugee program was housed within the hospital, and Jordanians and Syrians received separate care. The hospital there did not have as many resources as U.S. hospitals enjoy — more specialized instruments can be difficult to obtain.
Lovelle said she is already planning to go back and would like to stay for a longer period. She thanked NMC for its support of her mission work and for sending a donation of instruments. She believes it is valuable for U.S. doctors to share their skills with others in need around the world.
“Here I think we become complacent,” Lovelle said. “… It’s good for us just to know, to remember there is a different way to practice and to live.”