AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin-based plastic surgeon is volunteering her time and talent to help those who need it most.
Earlier this month, Dr. Tosan Ehanire treated several skin cancer patients and burn victims in Liberia.
Within the West African nation, the use of open fires for cooking in homes has made severe burn injuries a common occurrence.
Due to the country’s scarce medical resources, many of these wounds remain untreated for years.
“Injuries are very common, especially among women and young children who carry out these domestic activities,” Ehanire said.
Over a 10-day span, she operated on seven patients.
One of them included a two-year-old baby girl, who was suffering from a severe chemical burn injury on her face.
“We did a surgery to release those scars,” Ehanire explained. “To open up her mouth, so that she could actually eat.”
The Austin-based plastic surgeon volunteers for Liberia Medical Relief.
Dr. Kevin Strathy helped found the nonprofit as a lifeline for medical supplies and surgical services in response to the country’s need for healthcare.
“When we got here in 2013, there were 200 doctors for about 4 million people,” Strathy said. “Most of the doctors weren’t very well trained.”
Ehanire’s mother is originally from Liberia, growing up as a next-door neighbor to Strathy’s wife Natu.
For the surgeon, this opportunity to volunteer her services was a full-circle moment.
“Tosan is a great role model for young Liberian doctors here,” Strathy said.” “They see what they can be and I think the future is bright.”
Most surgeries Ehanire performed opened joints and restored range of motion.
Yet, she says help is needed with each operation costing an average of $500 per patient.
“There is no monetary compensation for us doctors,” Ehanire concluded. “It brings me joy to help uplift people and find ways to help them uplift themselves.”
This marked her second trip to Liberia with the nonprofit.
Looking ahead, Ehanire hopes to volunteer her expertise in the country every year.
If you would like to donate to Liberia Medical Relief, visit its website.