Once a year, Dr. Evan Ransom, a Mill Valley-based surgeon who specializes in reconstructive and plastic surgery, packs his bags and heads to Peru. It’s not a vacation; Dr. Ransom and fellow surgeons conduct yearly missions to provide pro-bono surgical services to children from impoverished families all over Peru who have little to no means to afford it.
Dr. Ransom, director of the San Francisco Center for Facial Plastic, Reconstructive and Laser Surgery, not only volunteers with Healing the Children; he founded the Northern California’s chapter of the organization after relocating to the Bay Area.
We caught up with Dr. Ransom to ask him a few questions about his life-altering volunteer work with Healing the Children.
How many years have you been supporting Healing the Children and how did you first get involved with the organization?
I have been on eight missions since I first became involved in Healing the Children in 2011 when I was doing a fellowship in New York City. After moving to San Francisco, I started the Northern California chapter. We now orchestrate one volunteer mission per year through this chapter, with the goal of adding more trips in the future.
Where do you travel for Healing the Children?
Our Northern California chapter is currently traveling to Ica, Peru. We go every spring to the same hospital and clinic, but we recruit patients from all over the country for surgery.
What kind of surgeries do you perform and how many surgeries do you estimate you’ve done?
There are typically four surgeons on each trip and we perform between 70 and 80 surgeries total. We do cleft lip repair, cleft palate repair, microtia repair and congenital lesion excisions in the head and neck region.
How would you explain the difference between working with people in impoverished countries with very little means as compared to the U.S.?
Mission work is medicine in its truest form. There are no bills, no insurance companies, no administrative headaches or red tape. Though we sometimes face challenges because of the local environment or facilities, it’s actually quite liberating to just treat patients without the other concerns.
Any particular stories of kids’ lives you’ve changed that come to mind?
There are so many, but the one that jumps out is of 11-month-old Gael, who was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. He was living in a remote village in the Amazon region and therefore unable to get the medical attention he needed. Gael’s family learned about our plastic surgery mission thanks to Healing the Children’s incredible outreach team, and with HTC’s help the family was able to travel 22 hours to get the life-changing surgical help Gael needed to eat solids, improve his speech abilities and live a more normal life.
Anything else you’d like to share about Healing the Children?
We are always looking for volunteers. This includes nurses, operating room technicians, support staff, pediatricians, dentists, anesthesiologists and speech therapists. Please visit our >website to find out how to volunteer or donate.
A freelance writer in Marin who writes about family, kids and parenting, Glass is the mother to one son, one dog and a hamster named Miss Geri. When she’s not writing, trekking up steep hills in Marin or driving her kid to sports practice, she and her family spend time in their tiny cabin in Lake Tahoe. She avidly supports the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to Bay Area seniors and disabled adults. Glass is obsessed with baking the perfect loaf of banana bread, something she makes so often she no longer needs to look at a recipe card.