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David Geffen School of Medicine

Postcard from Guatemala

  Drs. Meena Said and Marjorie Fine

Drs. Meena Said (left) and Marjorie Fine perform a parathyroidectomy operation at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.
Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Meena Said

by Marjorie Fine, MD

Marjorie Fine, MD’75 (RES ’80), was the first woman to complete the general surgical residency at UCLA. She practiced in Santa Monica in a single-specialty group until joining the UCLA surgical faculty in 2012. Since 1992, Dr. Fine has volunteered on the admissions committee for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She was chief of surgery at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and general-surgery section chief at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. She now works part time and lives locally.

For the last decade, first as a volunteer and then as a nondenominational mission leader, I have brought volunteer teams of specialty surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and lay volunteers to underserved foreign provinces to deliver direct patient care. In these settings, there is no infrastructure, no paperwork and no committees; patients in need of surgical care are the only requirement.

Last summer, Meena Said, MD ’06, joined me for a successful mission in Amatitlán, Guatemala. The mission was organized by Aloha Medical Mission. Like me, Dr. Said is surgically trained and practices in Santa Monica, California. We worked for 10 days with the team, performing gallbladder, hernia, gynecologic and plastic surgical procedures. Despite the use of older open techniques for cholecystectomies, the patients left the hospital ambulatory within 48 hours, happily walking home with modest, temporary medication to resume their lives free of symptoms. One child who underwent eight tooth extractions, under general anesthesia, by our pediatric dentist was infection- and pain-free for the first time in years. For many patients, this was the only personal medical care they had ever received. The smiles and gratitude were overflowing, along with hugs for the team.

UCLA has an impact on health from the local seaside to countries around the world. Not bad for a couple of local girls turned surgeons.

For more information, visit the Aloha Medical Mission website.



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