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Littleton doctor serves with Mercy Ships, aids African poor

Posted: 05/05/2011 06:32:44 AM MDT   Updated: 05/05/2011 06:32:44 AM MDT   Author: Kevin Hamm

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LITTLETON Littleton anesthesiologist Dr. Ron Edgar likes to see the world his own way.

"... You can only lie on a beach for so long and it kind of gets old after a while, and you have to think is there more to life than lying on a beach," he said.

More to life to Edgar means medical volunteering, most recently with

(http://www.mercyships.org/content/home) Mercy Ships , a global charity operating private hospital ships in the developing world.

Edgar is just back from service onboard the largest ship, Africa Mercy, providing free medical services in Sierra Leone in Africa. Edgar and hundreds of other medical volunteers and crew brought medical care to residents who seldom have any.

The ship, Edgar said, is about 300 feet long, with seven decks and six operating rooms, an intensive care unit, four wards for patients and other facilities. More than 400 crews members run the ship and operation, the majority of whom are volunteers.

Edgar left April 8, flying to Washington, D.C., on to Ghana and then Sierra Leone all at his own expense, like all the volunteer medical staff. His two-week volunteer stint was busy with hundreds of patient surgeries.

Edgar said the medical mission is a well-organized operation aboard the ship.

Poor residents will come for days beforehand for triage, he said, some from hundreds of miles away, standing in lines for days for treatment of ailments like cleft lips and palates, orthopedic procedures, benign tumors of the head and neck, hernias, dental work and other ailments.

He was especially impressed with the skill of the surgeons in correcting things like terribly bent limbs in young children. Cataracts, the leading cause of blindness in the country, are corrected at a cost of just $25 for Mercy Ships. All medical care for patients is free.

Mercy Ships was founded in 1978 by Colorado native Don Stephens and his wife, Deyon, part of the

(http://www.ywam.org/) Youth With A Mission Christian ministry. Mercy Ships now operates as a separate entity, but maintains a close relationship with the ministry.

Edgar said helping where the need is greatest is rewarding and makes him appreciate how lucky we are in the United States.

"The things that we take for granted even things like tap water that's drinkable, electricity 24 hours a day, indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning...just the simplicities of life that we all take for granted..." he said.

Edgar has volunteered for other medical mission trips, including in Haiti after the devastating earthquake last year, Rwanda, Nepal and Mongolia with groups like the

(http://www.ghi.gov/) Global Health Initiative .

He said he really enjoys getting to know people on a very personal level.

"You really get a chance to work with the people of the country it gives you a greater sense of what the county is like as opposed to just going there as a tourist and saying, 'Oh yeah I saw this museum, that museum...'" he said.

Daniel Smith: 303-954-2671 or

smithd@yourhub.com

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