AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin doctor is saving lives across Africa.
Dr. Karen Keough recently returned from a medical mission trip to Kenya where she delivered lifesaving neurological care to children in need. This marked the pediatric neurologist’s sixth mission trip.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to provide care in an area that is sorely lacking with medical care at all,” she said.
Over the years, the medical director of Pediatrix Specialty Care of Austin has helped hundreds of kids in Central Texas and overseas.
During her most recent medical mission in Maai Mahiu, Kenya, she treated 50-60 patients per day over a four-day span.
“The level of gratitude is exceptional because they know we’re taking time out of our lives, spending our own money to get there and sharing our expertise with them,” Keough said.
For more than 10 years, Keough and colleagues have worked collaboratively with the Ubuntu Life Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit.
Through the foundation’s HEAL Kenya program, teams of volunteer clinicians staff quarterly medical clinics. In addition to neurology care, the clinics offer pediatrics, cardiology, hematology, dermatology and general surgical services.
Co-founder Zane Wilemon said countless kids are suffering from undiagnosed epilepsy.
“Thousands of children are being seen as a curse because of their seizures,” he said. “If they could just take simple medication and have follow-up care, they could live a very normal life.”
After years of providing care only intermittently through volunteer trips, Ubuntu Life Foundation now employs a full-time Kenyan physician.
In the summer of 2022, the foundation opened a state-of-the-art health care facility in Maai Mahiu.
“The medical community here in Austin has helped us build a really sustainable foundation of health care in Kenya, that the Kenyans are running for themselves,” Wilemon said.
“We’ve been able to grow our resources so that there’s onsite care for continuity between our trips,” Keough said.
Traveling over 8,000 miles away from Austin to help countless kids isn’t easy.
Yet, Keough said each week is worth witnessing lives being totally transformed.
“It’s really a powerful thing to do,” she concluded. “You feel like you’ve made a huge difference in just a few days of clinic.”
The Ubuntu Life Foundation is always in need of new doctors and nurses willing to volunteer for medical mission trips to Kenya.
The next trip to Mai Mahiu is scheduled to take place a little later in October. For those interested in helping the children in need, you can visit its website.