Dr. Wend Schaefer, an Incline Village resident, recently returned from a month-long service mission in Tanzania. While there, Schaefer, a retired orthopedic surgeon, performed more than 70 surgical procedures, including the straightening of severe leg deformities, skin grafting, and treatment of club feet and bone infections.
This humanitarian mission was facilitated by the ongoing relationship between the Rotary Club of Tahoe-Incline and the Rotary Club of Bukoba, Tanzania. Dr. Schaefer and his wife Jody were invited by the Rotary Club of Bukoba to be its guests in Tanzania to evaluate orthopedic conditions and to perform necessary surgeries.
In preparation for the trip, Dr. Schaefer obtained donations of medical supplies from various hospitals, including Tahoe Forest Hospital. The Schaefers transported two suitcases full of sutures, gloves and other surgical supplies to the Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital near Bukoba City, Tanzania.
The Rotary Club of Bukoba further facilitated the mission by referring patients to the clinics that were held by Dr. Schaefer. These clinics were held daily at the Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital and on Saturdays at the IZAAS medical facility in Bukoba City. The hospital allowed Dr. Schaefer unlimited access to its operating room five days a week.
“During that month, we were clearly the orthopedic center of Northern Tanzania,” Schaefer said. “We treated patients from as far away as Dodoma in the center of Tanzania. We were also delighted to be able to provide teaching on orthopedics to 6 medical students from Hong Kong.”
Previously, through Dr. Schaefer’s efforts, the Rotary Club of Tahoe-Incline collaborated with the Rotary Club Of Bukoba to send a container of medical goods and devices worth more than $200,000 to the Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania.
In 2009, the two clubs again collaborated to build a playground on the shores of Lake Victoria in Bukoba City. The swings and playground equipment have continued be to very popular with the children of Bukoba.
Dr. Schaefer is a member and former president of the Rotary Club of Tahoe-Incline. He was awarded the highest honor for service by Rotary International earlier this year. Schaefer is planning a return mission to Tanzania in January 2014, and hopes to be accompanied by surgical nurses from Tahoe-area hospitals.