Healing Smiles: UW Oto Faculty and Partners Return to Cambodia for Humanitarian Surgical Mission

Seattle Team in Cambodia
Seattle Team in Cambodia

In January 2023, UW Oto faculty members Kathy Sie, MD, and Amit Bhrany, MD, together with Craig Murakami, MD, a UW clinical professor and emeritus facial plastic surgeon at Virginia Mason Medical Center, and former UW faculty member Sam Most, MD, currently a professor at Stanford University, returned to Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for a humanitarian surgical mission trip. They were joined by former UW facial plastic surgery fellows Anish Abrol, MD, Bryan Ambro, MD, and Scott Bevans, MD; and Tom Wang, MD, FACS,from Oregon Health & Science University.

This annual trip is a coordinated effort with Smile Cambodia, led by Theavy Mok, MD, and Northwest Medical Volunteers, a non-profit organization formed by Drs. Murakami, Sie, Most, and Bhrany. The team provides care for facial deformities caused by congenital anomalies, cancer, trauma, and more. It also serves as an educational exchange between UW/Stanford faculty and Cambodian medical students, residents, and surgeons.

The focus is on microtia repair, cleft lip and palate repair, complex facial reconstruction, and head and neck cancer surgery. This year, they screened over 130 patients, performed 45 surgeries, and provided medical supplies and an anesthesia machine to Smile Cambodia.

After the Cambodian genocide, the country was left with a severe shortage of physicians. The team aims to bridge this gap by providing healthcare and education to sustain long-term care. Cambodian medical students and residents participate in surgical cases and receive lectures on facial plastic surgery.

The impact extends beyond Cambodia; serving on this trip reminds the team of the importance of their profession and the difference they can make. It reaffirms the value of a life dedicated to serving others.