Austin Plastic Surgeon Performs Volunteer Treatments in West Africa

Austin (KXAN) — Austin-based plastic surgeon volunteers her time and talents to help those most in need.

Earlier this month, Dr. Tosan Ehanile treated several skin cancer and burn victims in Liberia.

Severe burns are common within West Africa due to the use of open flames for home cooking.

Due to the country’s scarce medical resources, many of these wounds go untreated for years.

“Injuries are very common, especially among women and young children who perform these domestic activities,” Ehanile said.

She operated on 7 patients in 10 days.

One of them included a 2-year-old girl with severe chemical burns on her face.

“We had surgery to remove the scars,” Ehanile explained. “It’s to open your mouth so you can actually eat.”

Austin-based plastic surgeon volunteers with the Liberia Medical Relief Effort.

Dr. Kevin Strathy helped establish this non-profit organization as a lifeline of medical supplies and surgical services to meet the medical needs of the nation.

“When we got here in 2013, we had 200 doctors for about 4 million people,” Strathy said. “Most of the doctors were not well trained.”

Ehanile’s mother is from Liberia and grew up next door to Strathy’s wife, Natu.

For the surgeon, this opportunity to serve as a volunteer was just a moment that came full circle.

“Tosan is a great role model for young Liberian doctors here,” said Strathy. “They know what they can do and I think the future is bright.”

For most surgeries, Ehanile opened the joint to restore range of motion.

But each surgery costs an average of $500 per patient, so she says she needs help.

“There is no financial compensation for us doctors,” Ehanile concluded. “I take pleasure in uplifting people and helping them find ways to uplift themselves.”

This is her second visit to Liberia with the nonprofit.

Looking ahead, Ehanile wants to volunteer her expertise in the country each year.

If you would like to donate to Liberia Medical Relief, please visit their website.

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