Posted on 2 May, 2015

Did you ever think a hailstorm in Sydney might derail surgery in the Philippines? Me neither.


(Photos courtesy of Blacktown Sun Facebook)

Things never seem as simple as they could be when it comes to working in developing countries. Sometimes it seems that everything in the world is conspiring against you.

In the week prior to departing, we arranged the purchase of some important surgical equipment for our Philippines project. It was short timing with the deal struck with a friendly medical supplier.

Problem One. The said piece is in New Zealand and needs to be sent back to Sydney. Seemed that everything would work and fingers crossed delivery would happen the day prior. Not so. Customs delays in Sydney.

Solution One. Thankfully I was flying out two days later than everyone else and it would arrive in time for me to take it.

Problem Two. The necessary supplies to be used with the machines cannot be sourced in Australia due to the massive hail storm which caused damage their warehouse, and making it completely unaccessible! There was no way to obtain stock, however it could possibly be acquired through a distributor in the Philippines.

Problem Three. When the equipment is delivered to my house at 9:30pm the night I before flying out it weighs 46 kilograms. Already well and truly over the baggage limit I am allowed, before I even factor in my own belongings!

Solution Two. Completely re-pack, remove many personal items and prepare to do without in the Philippines! Reduce the weight overall and ditch one of the protective cases, and keep fingers crossed for no damage along the way.

Solution Three. Arrive in Manila for a one night stopover, before flying to the north of the country to our project site. Organise for the distributor to come out at 10pm at night to your hotel. Purchase last four boxes that he has in the country.

After some final fast-talking and begging and pleading on the final domestic leg to allow the excess baggage, I arrive in Santiago City. Success!

And here’s the result, equipment in action!


At the conclusion of the 5th operating day, 72 patients have received surgery. Surgery begins again tomorrow, with a number of paediatric cases scheduled. It’s going to be a big day.

Tags:  Philippines,