In 2005, Dr. Sean Hanley was approached with an opportunity that he felt was extremely intriguing – traveling to China to perform surgery for those who could not afford it, a mission project led by the charitable organization Healing the Children.
“It was really by chance,” he recalled. A nurse in the Portland area suggested Dr. Hanley would be the right orthopaedic surgeon to replace a physician who became ill before he was supposed to head to Shanghai. The trip would include foot and ankle procedures, hip surgeries, and more. It was a mission that Dr. Hanley found rewarding in many ways and has kept him involved in the organization. He has since visited Taizhou Enze Hospital five more times, completing a total of more than 70 voluntary surgeries for the indigenous population in China.
“You get to see these patients who normally wouldn’t be able to receive this medical care because of financial reasons and we are able to help the Chinese provide that. There’s also the rewarding aspect of getting to work together with the Chinese for us to learn from them and from them to learn from us and see how their approach to healthcare, orthopaedics, and surgical interventions has evolved through these trips.”
Dr. Hanley has received thank you videos from some of his patients from the Taizhou Enze Hospital and always checks in with them on each trip to China. One of the success stories that stands out to him is one woman who suffered from bi-lateral hip disease from birth and had several failed surgical procedures as a child. She had no motion in either hip and could hardly walk. In a recent video, that same woman is shown riding a bike.
Being the orthopaedic surgeon for each mission, Dr. Hanley gets to assemble his own team to travel with him to perform the procedures which he says is like putting together a hockey team.
“It’s really a lot of fun to put together a team of doctors, nurses, and techs. You really get to know them better and there’s a lot of team bonding.”
Dr. Hanley says it can take multiple weeks to recover from one of these trips, and hopes to be able to head back to Shanghai for trip number seven to continue helping others and learning from other cultures about