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In-Depth: World Surgical Foundation volunteers changed - abc27 WHTM

In-Depth: World Surgical Foundation volunteers changed by mission

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines (WHTM) -

The tent outside General Santos City Hospital is packed. Hundreds of people have come to the hospital for the World Surgical Foundation's medical mission.

Hope is what brings the people here. Some have been living in pain for years. Others have been shunned for the way they look.

"To all our patients this is like a dream that comes true for them.  They have been with this kind of problem for awhile, many sometimes years, but today these problems will be solved because of this medical mission," said Doctor Benjamin Pagarigen, chief of General Santos City Hospital.

The World Surgical Foundation has brought 10 doctors and several other volunteers to do free surgeries. Doctors and volunteers from Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Canada make up the team.

"People here would not be able to afford surgeries like this, so it is a great blessing for the province to partner with you guys and the American donors, so we are actually speechless and full of thanks," said Steve Solon, governor of Sarangani Province.

The doctors see conditions they have never seen before. The Midstate's Dr. Domingo Alvear examines a three-month-old baby with a rare condition.

"This baby was born with this lesion between the eyes and it is connected to the brain. It is rare, maybe one to 10,000 births, or even more. We cannot help this baby here. It is too dangerous. They are going to try and arrange that they go to Manila," said Alvear. "They would not have gotten this help if they did not come here today, because they would not have known where to go."

The doctors also saw more common cases. Nine-month-old Manny was born with a bi-lateral cleft lip.

"You can see adults with them and they end up being very critical in school and they cant get nice jobs and the psychological backlash is terrible. So it is real nice to have surgery done this early. Hopefully after a few days he is going to be even cuter than he is right now," said Dr. Fritz Tumaneng, plastic surgeon.

Manny happens to be named after the man who hosted the doctors.

World champion boxer and Filipino Congressman Manny Pacquiao put the volunteers up in one of his hotels and fed them for the week.

"Really appreciative of their mission here. They have helped a lot of people, especially in my province," said Pacquiao.

The missions also change those that volunteer.

Scott Slocum of Shippensburg works full-time at Carlisle Medical Center and is a part-time flight nurse for Life Lion. This was his first medical mission.

"We are obviously spoiled back at home.  It is good to be able to come and help the people that are less fortunate then we are and there is obviously a big need here," said Slocum, WSF Volunteer.

Maria Seiders of Harrisburg is a mother of two. This was also her first medical mission.

 "The maternity ward is really what shocked me. In the United States we get our own rooms and bathrooms. Here it gets overcrowded and you see the moms in the hallway. It is kind of tragic. It is sad because we really have it good in the U.S. and we take a lot of that stuff for granted," Seiders said.

Seiders came on this trip with her mom, who works in the medical field.

"I am so proud of her. I cannot believe she made it through and I think she did the best," said Edina Dessner of Mechanicsburg

"You have to reach out to people in need, no matter where they are from," said Seiders.

Dr. Alvear started the World Surgical Foundation 17 years ago. After 60 missions around the world, do all of the faces of his patients start to fade?

"I still have the passion to take care of them. I do not think that will ever go away," said Alvear.

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