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Volunteer Vets

Although our team has many new members on our mission this year, several volunteers are returning again from multiple years of experience. Kelsey Cole returns for her fourth trip and has been able to see the evolution of this program over the years. Kelsey came to Antigua on her first trip when she was just 16 years old with a friend from church. She began as a member of our Art Team, focusing on playing and doing crafts with the children waiting to get surgery and the ones who were in recovery. She has noticed between this trip and her first year our group as a whole is much more organized and comes more prepared every year. This year, Kelsey bought 144 canvas backpacks filled with markers, clothing, toothbrushes, stuffed animals, etc. for the recovering patients to take home with them. It’s a significant impDSC_0217rovement this year in comparison to the plastic bags the patients used to receive filled with only toothbrushes, toothpaste and a Beanie Baby. Kelsey is still involved with the Art Team, but now branches out and helps with others in the PACU and also shadows the surgeons. Her first shadowing experience in the OR was on her second trip here in Antigua and her experience helped her decide what area of medicine to pursue for her career. Kelsey had planned a career in medicine, but didn’t know what type of physician she wanted to be. While working in a research lab at MU, a professor noticed how rapidly she learned to dissect fruit fly brains –she successfully dissected five during her first attempt, only to learn that her boss needed six months to do this. With such amazing fine motor skills, Kelsey was advised to explore surgery. She will soon be applying to medical school once she finishes her senior year at MU and hopes to become a surgeon. We are so lucky to have so many volunteers with years of experience under their belts to help out on this mission and improve the process each year.

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