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Volunteer Surgery in Cambodia

By Elliott Brender | 05 Jun, 2015

I am going back to Cambodia January 2016. I will be teaching, doing surgeries, and bringing essential surgical supplies. This will be my 5th trip so I have significant experience on what is needed and what is available. I thought it might be interesting to hear from my colleagues who have already done such trips and others who might have that interest in the future.



Jonathan Foley Replied at 1:47 AM, 6 Jun 2015

I don't have any experience with trips like these but I am very interested. If you need help (I have some med-surg and mostly PICU experience) please contact me.

Kee Park Replied at 1:54 AM, 6 Jun 2015

Hello Elliott

I am in-country as the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies representative supporting training. I work along side Cambodian neurosurgeons at the Preah Kossamak Hospital. Do let me know when you get here so we can at least make contact.

Judy Norman Replied at 2:29 AM, 6 Jun 2015

Where will you be teaching? We are south of the city in a smaller hospital,
just getting surgeries going and working with other hospitals. We have
requests for equipment and supplies ( and teaching help) if you are able.

Elliott Brender Replied at 4:46 PM, 6 Jun 2015

I teach at both medical schools, International University and University of Health Sciences, both in Phnom Penh. I work with Dr. Theavy Mok and Dr. Gunther Hintz from Medicorps NGO. Are you familiar with either of them? Where are you located? Maybe we can arrange something for your group. Tentative plans are for me to be in Cambodia between January 4th and January 21st. Flights not booked yet so dates are not fixed. I'll keep everyone posted via this group. I may be contacted directed via .

george klauber Replied at 6:23 PM, 6 Jun 2015

I am a pediatric urologist who has been on Missions to Vietnam & Rwanda.
Would have interest in performing similar work in Cambodia. Would hopefully
be able to attract anesthesiologist & possibly nurses. Would be happy to
make direct contact with you, Elliott.

Suzi Nou Replied at 6:50 PM, 6 Jun 2015

Hi all,

I am an Australian paediatric anaesthetist who teaches and works regularly in Cambodia, having done so for about ten years now. I teach paediatric ICU, anaesthesia and trauma care. I work with the university, the professional society of anaesthesia, ICU and emergency medicine and the Cambodian medical council.

Jonathon - I conduct paediatric BASIC courses annually in Cambodia. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in getting involved.

George, one of my surgical colleagues conducts an annual teaching/surgical visit for children with DSD. He has also developed a significant amount of support for the service, such as carriage of blood into Australia for genetic testing etc, rather than only performing clinical work and teaching.

Kee - it would be great to catch up. I'm curious about the state of neurosurgery in Cambodia, as well as neuroanaesthesia and neuro ICU.

For those of you in country - I go to Cambodia every March and November. If those times suit, it would be great to meet you. There is a Facebook page for health professionals working in Cambodia. I think it is called 'collaboration cambodia'. It may be a place to meet others.


george klauber Replied at 12:34 AM, 8 Jun 2015


Do you have a contact in Cambodia whom I could contact who could put me in
touch with Urologists or Pediatric Surgeons to find out their level of
interest in my visiting to teach, consult &/or do some pediatric urology

Anna Penna Replied at 10:38 AM, 8 Jun 2015

I am an experienced BC anesthesiologist who travels annually to rural Haiti. I would be interested in going wi a group to Cambodia. Let me know the details

Elliott Brender Replied at 12:33 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Anna - let me have your e-mail address. I will keep you posted as to what is happening. If I can get a group of doctors together (need 10 or more to make it possible) I can arrange a trip to Cambodia. Trip would include tours of local hospitals, assessment of state of medical care in Cambodia, opportunities for the future . Included would be a visit to the Killing Fields, the Toul Sleng Prison, the Royal Palace, and Siem Riep - Angkor Wat. And excursion to Sihanoukville (gorgeous beaches) also possible.

Kee Park Replied at 12:59 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Sounds like a fiesta

To Anna and Suzi (anesthesia)

I have been working at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh since 2013. As expected, most of the cases are head and spine trauma. Tons of epidurals from unhelmeted moto accidents. We did some brain tumor cases and each time the cerebral relaxation was inadequate. If you would be willing to come and do some cases with our team during your next visit I would be most grateful.
There is an ICU but would not call it a neuro-ICU. We don't do any ICP monitoring.
I am a US BC neurosurgeon living full time in Cambodia (at least for one more year)

Anna Penna Replied at 1:15 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Hello Elliott, my personal email address is .  Yes, please keep me in the loop as I would love to travel to Cambodia to research surgical locations.  Thanks ,Anna

Elliott Brender Replied at 3:40 PM, 10 Jun 2015

I have been very encouraged by the responses to this group. My difficulty is trying to figure our how to adequately utilize everybody's talents. My first trip to Cambodia was in 2008. I went with a People to People Ambassador's Tour to Cambodia & Vietnam. We were a group of surgeons and our goal was to assess surgical care, meet colleagues, and establish relationships for further assistance. We toured multiple hospitals in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City. We also visited the Tuol Sleng Prison, the Killing Fields & Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Since then I have returned 3 additional times. On my return visits I did actual surgery, taught at the medical schools, and did several TV appearances lecturing on common medical topics.

I would think for first time participants, some form of overview tour would be in order. With a tour a package would be created to include tour guides, hotel, meals, and transportation.

However for those already in country and working at local hospitals a package is not needed. Instead a meet and greet for starters and then possible placement depending on the specialty and needs of both the participant and the Cambodians.

For those never been to Cambodia, how does this sound? Can we get ten people together? I will keep track of all responses and keep everybody informed.

Guilherme da Rosa Replied at 3:54 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Hello, I'm a general surgery resident from Brazil. I'm very interest to help this group. Can I make part of this ten people?

Thank you a lot. It's a very interesting discussion here. If I can help with something. I have a few experience about our public service of health that we can mix.

Thank you.

Guilherme César Barbosa da Rosa - Médico

Elliott Brender Replied at 4:12 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Sure. I will be posting details as soon as I get them from my colleague in Cambodia.

Suzi Nou Replied at 10:12 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Hi Elliott,

I'd be keen to stay in the loop. Preparations for our trip in November are well underway. So far, activities include

1. presentations at the annual scientific congress of the Cambodian Society of Anesthesia, ICU and Emergency Medicine
2. Conducting a pre-congress workshop. This year it will be an Essential Pain Medicine workshop.
3. Clinical anaesthesia teaching in Battambang
4. I am also hoping to conduct a Primary Trauma Care course (think ATLS/EMST but for resource poor context):

I am also hoping to complete some research:
- audit of SPICU
- qualitative research on barriers to administration of post-operative analgesia
- critical incident reporting.

As well as follow up on various plans with the Cambodian Medical Council and the University.

If any of these activities appeal to anybody, please feel free to email me. I will send you an "application form" . The form is intended for me to know your experience and motivation with working and travelling in developing countries and Cambodia. I try to balance the team so that we bring the right amount of experience for each visit. This trip has been running annually for the last five years and some components stay the same whilst others change, depending on the requests I receive from my colleagues in Cambodia. I am Australian - Cambodian and focus on building quality relationships and delivering appropriate resources with an emphasis on accountability to my Cambodian patients and colleagues. As with most anaesthetists, I regard improving the quality and safety of anaesthesia and peri-operative care as paramount.

Looking forward to keeping in touch.

Suzi Nou Replied at 10:19 PM, 10 Jun 2015

Hi Kee,

I'm coming to PP in November, the week before the water festival.

It would be great to do some cases!
If that week works well for you, perhaps we can exchanging ideas.

My email addresses are:


Judy Norman Replied at 10:16 AM, 11 Jun 2015

If you all come, please let us know! We'd enjoy a round-table discussion
and teaching. We have about 6-7 residents right now focusing on primary
care who need to understand more about when to refer, what's involved,
outcomes in surgeries. Thanks!

Anna Penna Replied at 12:37 PM, 11 Jun 2015

Elliott, I would be happy to go on the fact finding mission, but would be happy to teach and do cases if need be. Keep me updated with dates, etcAnna

Elliott Brender Replied at 1:18 PM, 11 Jun 2015

Judy - where are you located?

Edward Krisiunas Replied at 7:01 PM, 16 Jun 2015

Good day from Hanoi..

I am here on a medical waste management project - I was here three weeks
ago touring a number of hospitals Southern and Central provinces. I have
already spent some time in Hanoi. I will be back two more times between
now and the end of August.

I am interested in learning how waste is being managed in the operating
theaters. Hospitals here are still using water bottles strapped to
trolleys and an archaic method of drawing blood ( Med
Tech/Microbiologist/Infection Preventionist by education).

We are looking at improving training, supplies, and disposal of many
different waste streams that tend to become orphan waste as no one is
quite sure what to do with them such as fluorescent bulbs, medication
vials and glass bottles (trying to find a solution for a 30 ton pile in
the mountains near Hue).

Good luck to you all and look forward to any replies.


Ed Krisiunas, MT(ASCP), MPH

Catherine deVries Replied at 8:49 PM, 16 Jun 2015

Dear Ed
We have been working in many countries over a couple of decades, and the medical waste issue is huge, everywhere. I am thrilled to see you working on it. As surgeons, we are perhaps the worst offenders. Would love to work with you on this project. We also work with partners in VN as well as several African, Caribbean and Asian countries.


Catherine deVries, MD, FACS FAAP

Edward Krisiunas Replied at 1:33 AM, 17 Jun 2015

Hello Catherine...

Thank you for the email...26 years and counting working in the this field
after leaving the hospital environment and still many challenges..

I have a return project in Swaziland, new one in Kenya and one slowing
moving along in Namibia...

We can try to Skype while I am here..or when I return to the states ..July

Many issues - sharps management is one...use of quasi vacutainer
tubes...disinfection/sterilization standards...

Boutiquewaste is the Skype Name...

It would be good to connect and then brainstorm...I am sure we have plenty
of contacts ...

Elliott Brender Replied at 1:16 PM, 20 Jun 2015

My contact in Cambodia who also does volunteer work in Thailand gave me a preliminary outline of a fact finding trip through both Cambodia and Thailand. My concern is going through Thailand. I had a bad experience on my second trip. My brother, a plastic surgeon, had never been to Thailand so we decided to go through Thailand first. We usually bring donations of sutures and mesh for hernia repair via MAP International. We have a 501c3 so we can get discounted materials that are badly needed (cost around $100 for sutures, mesh, antibiotics, etc.). Unfortunately in Thailand customs wanted to confiscate all the donations as it wasn't allowed. I had to slip a customs agent $100 which he promptly pocketed and let me pass. In Cambodia our contact, Dr. Mok, has relatives in customs and we pass through the ambassador's line with no inspections whatsoever. I am attaching the itinerary presented but as the donations are so important I do want any hassles. Also the cost for the trip (not including international airfare) is $4700 which is for hotels, local airfare, tour guides, meals, etc. might be a bit objectionable. Please let me know what everybody thinks. I am trying to get a proposal for Cambodia only. I also know everybody would love to do cases but until you really appreciate what we have to work with and not really knowing your credentials that might be difficult on a first trip.

Attached resource:

Elliott Brender Replied at 9:42 PM, 25 Jun 2015

I am coming to Cambodia. Will be arriving 1/4/2016. Staying until 1/24/2016. Arriving in Phnom Penh. My host - Dr. Theavy Mok will be responsible for my schedule and what I get to do. For those interested in Cambodia now is the time to let me know what you'd like to do. If you want to come to Cambodia, how do you plan to get here, where do you plan to stay, what are your capabilities, specialty, etc.

sanjeev mathur Replied at 9:27 AM, 26 Jun 2015

Hi Elliott,
I would like to join you, I am a General Surgeon and can help you in most of the procedures you would perform.
Dr Sanjeev Mathur

Elliott Brender Replied at 2:08 PM, 26 Jun 2015

To all interested in going to Cambodia. It is not as simple as just jumping on board, going over to Cambodia, and doing a bunch of cases. There are issues with credentialing, licensing (which we do not have), and permissions. This is usually arranged via my host, Dr. Mok. In addition the most important part of what I do is bring donations. Those I arrange and pay for through MAP International. I have another charity, Heart to Heart, that I buy antibiotics from. I you are to accompany me I would expect you to buy appropriate supplies that would be donated. I have e-mailed MAP to find out current costs. This will also involve an additional suitcase (large box, etc.), as large as you can find for the donations.

Next question is the type and kind of trip. Usually for a first trip, an overview of what currently exists and what the issues are is in order. Medicorps will provide this which would include hotels, meals, in country transportation, guides, etc. I did this in 2008. vs.

What I plan to do this trip. Go, lecture at the Universities, do whatever cases arise (I have a specific interest in repairing anal strictures 2o improper hemorrhoid treatment). Getting there would be your problem, as would hotel, meals, transportation, and any tourism you'd like to do. I also will be meeting with many Cambodians, and volunteers and during those times you'd be on your own.

You will also need to be credentialed as we work unlicensed as volunteers (no pay) and need approval of various hospital directors and appropriate staff. As I have been doing this for some time now I am credentialed but everyone else is an unknown (sorry - but until I really know you and your capabilities you are an unknown).
So if you are serious send you CV to me at and tell me what you'd like to do.

john mulangi Replied at 3:06 PM, 26 Jun 2015

Ok ,I thought it was easy and simple

Elliott Brender Replied at 8:26 PM, 27 Jun 2015

Judy - I am coming to Cambodia January 4th. Will stay until the 24th. My schedule will be planned by Dr. Theavy Mok. Where I will be exactly each day I don't know yet. I'll need your e-mail so we can talk further.

Judy Norman Replied at 4:06 AM, 2 Jul 2015

thanks Elliot, I look forward to meeting you next January!

Elliott Brender Replied at 11:46 PM, 14 Jul 2015

I will be in Cambodia between January 4th and January 24th. Please send me your e-mail addresses - write me at and I'll add you to my database. Getting a schedule together of what I will be doing and where I will be. Hoping to meet you all.

Venkit Iyer Replied at 4:34 PM, 15 Jul 2015

I had expressed my interest in surgical volunteering on a previous date.

Elliott Brender Replied at 6:26 PM, 15 Jul 2015

venkit - e-mail address?

Venkit Iyer Replied at 7:01 PM, 15 Jul 2015

Elliott Brender Replied at 3:27 PM, 23 Aug 2016

Are you still interested in a surgical mission to Cambodia. If yes - contact me at . I'm bringing several other surgeons on a mission 11/22 -12/2/2016. Anyone interested in joining needs to contact me ASAP!

Elliott Brender, MD, FACS

---- sanjeev mathur via GHDonline <> wrote:

Elliott Brender Replied at 3:42 PM, 23 Aug 2016

Are you still interested in a surgical mission to Cambodia. If yes - contact me at . I'm bringing several other surgeons on a mission 11/22 -12/2/2016. Anyone interested in joining needs to contact me ASAP!

Elliott Brender, MD, FACS

---- sanjeev mathur via GHDonline <> wrote:

Ahmed Mofreh Replied at 5:43 PM, 23 Aug 2016

I am an eye surgeonI need more detailsThank you

Elliott Brender Replied at 7:13 PM, 23 Aug 2016

Send me your e-mail and I'll send you an itinerary.

Elliott Brender Replied at 7:27 PM, 23 Aug 2016

If you are interested in joining us I'll provide you with an itinerary. E-mail me at

Anna Penna Replied at 9:56 PM, 23 Aug 2016

I can't get the time off. Maybe next year?

Kunjan Acharya Replied at 10:30 PM, 23 Aug 2016

Hi I was at Cambodia doing ear surgeries at Awang dong hospital at the capital.
Last trip was 2 years back in total I have visited same hospital thrice.
Looking forward to work again


Bilal Altaf Replied at 10:49 PM, 23 Aug 2016

Myname is Dr Bilal and I'm interested in this mission. How can I join?

Elliott Brender Replied at 11:15 PM, 23 Aug 2016

Bilal - send me your email.

Bilal Altaf Replied at 12:03 AM, 24 Aug 2016

Simon Stock Replied at 12:25 AM, 24 Aug 2016

Dear Elliott,

Just to keep in touch - I am still very keen to meet you and your team in November - please could you send me a copy of your itinerary so that I can make appropriate arrangements to travel to Phnom Penh? Many thanks


Huda Naser Replied at 1:31 AM, 24 Aug 2016

I'm sooooo interesting but I'm from Gaza and can't travel and also I'm
sixth year medical student yet.
بتاريخ ٢٤‏/٠٨‏/٢٠١٦ ٧:٣٠ ص، كتب "Simon Stock via GHDonline" <

ahmed ali Replied at 8:25 AM, 24 Aug 2016

Yes im interesting ,plz give me some details about it

Ahmed Mofreh Replied at 10:40 AM, 24 Aug 2016

Elliott Brender Replied at 11:10 AM, 24 Aug 2016

Send me your e-mail so we can discuss this further.

Elliott Brender Replied at 1:11 PM, 24 Aug 2016

Please send me your e-mail to discuss this further.

Huda Naser Replied at 1:20 PM, 24 Aug 2016

بتاريخ ٢٤‏/٠٨‏/٢٠١٦ ٨:١٦ م، كتب "Elliott Brender via GHDonline" <

Elliott Brender Replied at 2:00 PM, 24 Aug 2016

Huda Naser - Obviously you need the ability to travel to join such a mission.

Clifford Wheeless Replied at 4:53 PM, 29 Aug 2016

It would be be an honor to join such a mission. I have been on 88 mission to Africa generally operating in the Bush using Spinal anesthesia. I have about 40 lectures on flash drives that may be of help to lecture then preform the surgery as seen in the lecture
If I can help please let me know.
Clifford R Wheeless
6132 Allwood Court 222
Baltimore, MD 21210

KEHINDE OKUNADE Replied at 6:32 PM, 2 Sep 2016

I'm a gynaecologist in Nigeria and I'll be interested in giving out my time
on this noble cause. Kindly give me more details. My email address is

Clifford Wheeless Replied at 7:28 PM, 2 Sep 2016

Could you E-Mail me how I could join a mission to Cambodia to preform surgery, Lecture.
Clifford R Wheeless MD FACS

Elliott Brender Replied at 8:29 PM, 2 Sep 2016

Clifford - please send me your e-mail.

Elliott Brender Replied at 8:45 PM, 2 Sep 2016

My missions are primarily general surgical missions. The overview of what
medicine is like in Cambodia is educational for anybody. How much surgery
everybody gets to do is very variable depending on the mission. Go to which will give you much more information on
what I do and what my plans are. If you are interested in joining us let me
know by e-mail at and I will send details. There
is still room in mission#6 but no hands on ob-gyn.

Judy Norman Replied at 10:04 PM, 2 Sep 2016

For all, there is not a single gynecologic oncologist in the country, and
really no surgical oncology to speak of. Bring your node dissection skills
with you!

Elliott Brender Replied at 9:23 PM, 3 Sep 2016

I have now formed a non-profit corporation "Surgeons for Cambodia, Inc." Check out my website My next mission is Nov 22nd - Dec 2nd, 2016.

Elliott Brender Replied at 3:35 PM, 6 Oct 2016

Are you interested in joining me on a mission to Cambodia. It will be in

Thomas Mote Replied at 3:48 PM, 6 Oct 2016

Dear Dr. Bender,

I didn't get all of your email about going to Cambodia
with you. The remainder of this year is full and
next year is filling fast but it sounds interesting.

Elliott Brender Replied at 3:54 PM, 6 Oct 2016

Send me your e-mail for more information.

Elliott Brender Replied at 3:55 PM, 6 Oct 2016

Write to me at directly for more info.

Thomas Mote Replied at 4:10 PM, 6 Oct 2016

This Community is Archived.

This community is no longer active as of December 2018. Thanks to those who posted here and made this information available to others visiting the site.