Austin plastic surgeon volunteers medical treatments in West Africa

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

Earlier this month, Dr. Tosan Ehanire Treated several skin cancer patients and burn victims in Liberia.

Severe burns are common in the West African country as a result of cooking over an open fire at home.

Many of these wounds have gone untreated for years due to the scarcity of medical resources in the country.

“Injuries are very common, especially among women and young children who are involved in these household activities,” Ehanire said.

Over a 10-day period, she operated on seven patients.

One of them was a two-year-old baby girl who suffered severe chemical burns to her face.

“We had surgery to remove those scars,” Ehanire explained. “Open her mouth so she can actually eat.”

The Austin-based plastic surgeon volunteers with Liberia Medical Relief.

Dr. Kevin Strathy helped start the nonprofit as a lifeline of medical supplies and surgical services to meet the nation’s healthcare needs.

“When we got here in 2013, there were about 4 million people with 200 doctors,” Stracy said. “Most doctors are not very well trained.”

Ehanire’s mother is from Liberia and lives next door to Strathy’s wife, Natu.

For surgeons, this opportunity to volunteer their services is a full-circle moment.

“Tosan is a great role model for the young Liberian doctors here,” Strathy said. “They see potential in themselves and I think the future is bright.”

Most of the surgeries Ehanire performed were to open the joint and restore range of motion.

However, she said each procedure requires help and costs an average of $500 per patient.

“We physicians have no monetary compensation,” Ehanire concluded. “Helping to lift people up and finding ways to help them lift themselves up brings me joy.”

This is her second trip to Liberia with the nonprofit.

Looking ahead, Ehanire hopes to contribute his expertise in the country every year.

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

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