Posted on 21 April, 2016

Before Hannah Coffey sets off for an ‘around the world’ working and travelling trip, she has managed to fit in two more surgical missions in East Africa.


The dedicated 25 year old is Open Heart International’s physiotherapist for both the Rwanda and Tanzania projects.

“I do physiotherapy on the children here, which includes mobility assessments, and chest assessments pre and post operation,” Hannah said.

“This means I do a lot of following up after surgery in wards.”

Hannah can be seen on the wards encouraging children to get out of beds for walks to keep mobile, play connect four, blow bubbles and play with balloons, which all add to their recovery. Through movement and exercise the patients’ mobility increases and their fitnessdevelops.

At home, Hannah works at Ryde Hospital at their rehabilitation unit which is a 64-bed facility.

“There I do adult rehab where I see orthopaedic cases, burns victims, stroke patients, people recovering from brain injuries, people with general deconditioning, as well as geriatric patients,” she said

“It is quite a different setting at home, mainly because I would see each patient for two to three hours a day.”

Hannah said she was enjoying getting to know the volunteers on the project, as well as some of the local physiotherapists.

“I have been amazed at how advanced and up-to-date some of their facilities are,” she said.


“They have six or seven physios at the hospital, which is comparable to what they have at similar size hospitals at home.”

Hannah got her first taste of volunteer work with Open Heart International in February last year when she travelled to Myanmar.

“I heard about Open Heart through a friend’s father who is an anaesthetist and has been involved with the group for 20 years and had been going to Burma for the past few years,” Hannah said.

“I spent time between the adult and the children’s hospitals, which was a very interesting experience.”

Hannah was asked to join the East African projects as the team’s physiotherapist after her time in Myanmar.

Despite jet setting off in July, Hannah still wanted to be a part of another Open Heart International experience.

“I head off to Rio for the Olympics then I go to work in Honduras for two months,” she said.

“I make my way down to Ecuador and I will probably do a month of work at a children’s rehab unit there too.

“Then head off to Haiti to do a month of work in one of their rehab units near the border of Dominican Republic doing amputee work.”


Tags:  East Africa,