A reason to smile

November 4, 2013

Photo courtesy of ReSurge International


Calgary physician Dr. Robin G. Cox helps children around the world receive life-altering surgery.

He volunteers with ReSurge International, a group that provides reconstructive surgery for the world’s poorest people.

It reminds you how lucky we are to live and work where we do. And I feel lucky to have the opportunity to give hope to these children.

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It’s not the kind of vacation everyone would sign up for, but for Calgary pediatric anesthesiologist Dr. Robin G. Cox the chance to spend two weeks inside an operating room in a foreign country is irresistible. Especially when he’s helping to change the lives of children who might otherwise never receive much-needed reconstructive surgery.

“There’s a group of pediatric anesthesiologists in Calgary, and many of us work with organizations that do this kind of mission work,” explains Dr. Cox, who volunteers with ReSurge International, a group that provides reconstructive surgery for the world’s poorest people.

Photo courtesy of ReSurge InternationalSince 2008, Dr. Cox has made four trips to countries such as Peru and Vietnam, where a team of anesthesiologists and surgeons perform up to 80 reconstructive surgeries on cleft lips and burns.

It’s important on these trips to have people who have been around for awhile,” notes Dr. Cox. “You need to be able to work under sometimes difficult circumstances.”

He recounts that during his most recent trip to Vietnam, the team had propped the window of the operating room open slightly to vent gases, when a snake decided to join them in the OR.

“We had this poisonous pit viper in the room with us, and a patient asleep, so we just had to carry on until the surgery was done. It was a good ending for the patient, but not a good ending for the snake,” laughs Dr. Cox.

Despite sometimes harrowing conditions, Dr. Cox intends to continue volunteering his time to more medical missions.

“A lot of these children face social stigma, so to be able to come in and help them live more normal lives is quite rewarding. It reminds you how lucky we are to live and work where we do. And I feel lucky to have the opportunity to give hope to these children.”

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