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KRCH Archive: Volunteers from the Past

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by Dr. Phil McDaniel

Volunteers from many countries have donated their time and talents to further the work of the Kwai River Christian Hospital and benefit the community. They have generally paid their own way to get to the Kwai River Christian Hospital and paid for their own room and board while there. Some volunteers have been repeaters, giving of their time and talents again and again. A few volunteers are pictured below. I hope to add more photos as they get digitized.


Bruce Mills trying to keep his boots dry by pole vaulting across the stream. Bruce came with Phil Blackman and son Andrew Blackman to put in a gravity-fed water system for the Village of Yakadee.



Phil Blackman and Bruce Mills. When I asked Phil whether he thought he could improve the function of our rickety old operating table [this table swayed a bit from side to side and also slowly sank under the weight of the patient during operations], he said, “Not a problem. It works just like a piece of farm machinery!” At that time Phil Blackman was managing a farm owned by a specialist surgeon in Australia and Bruce Mills was running a sheep ranch.


Bruce, Phil, and Gideon give the operating table a test ride after their overhaul job done in the hospital’s back yard.



Dr. Ed McDaniel covered the KRCH many times. The first time was in the early 1960s when he covered the hospital for a week or two for Dr. Doug Corpron. At that time, son Philip was still in high school. In this photo, probably from the late 1980’s, Dr. Ed is examining a patient recovering from a coma. Patient is lying on a mattress on the floor. I think this is because the beds were all full. However it also could have been a precaution against falling out of bed due to a seizure or disorientation.



Dr. and Mrs. Curry (Frank and Beryl), July, 2004, Washington State, USA
Dr. and Mrs. Curry (Frank and Beryl) in Washington State, USA, where Phil McDaniel went to visit them in July, 2004. Frank and Phil’s dad, Dr. Ed McDaniel, together covered the KRCH for about one year (1987/1988) while Phil was on furlough in the USA. Frank and my dad both turned 70 in 1987. Their birthdays were just four days apart. They referred to themselves as “the two old men manning the fort”.



Dr. Keith Dahlberg and nurse Satja, round on a patient in the big ward. Dr. Dahlberg took turns with Dr. Bina Sawyer and Dr. Ed McDaniel to cover the hospital part of the time during the two year gap between Dr. John Freeman and Dr. Phil McDaniel. In later years, Dr. Keith returned from the States 2-3 times to cover the KRCH so Dr. Phil could go to a conference or go on vacation. Dr. Keith has been listed in some accounts of the hospital’s history as one of the former directors. However, he was never officially the hospital director at KRCH. He was director at Maesariang Christian Hospital.



Dr. Akira Koga from Japan [back row, center, flanked by Dr. Phil McDaniel and nurse Ebra Sanba] with cataract patients in the mid 1980’s. Dr. Koga came twice, sending expensive donated equipment ahead of his first visit.



Dr. Koga testing visual acuity of a patient following cataract surgery.



Improved vision following cataract surgery. Note that this was in the mid 1980s. We were still using an old method involving removal of the entire lens (intracapsular cataract extraction) and no placement of an artificial intraocular lens. This was in the days when post cataract surgery patients had to wear thick glasses.



The staff called visiting dentist, Dr. Phil Horton, “Dr. Phil Tooth” to distinguish him from Dr. Phil McDaniel.



Phil Horton working with kids crowded around
Dr. Phil Horton works on a student while curious schoolmates look on.



Dentist Phil Horton with translator and assistant Kalay (left) and gardener-turned-denture-maker Moung Oo (right).



Dr. Mathew Clark came for a volunteer stint in the 1980’s. Here he is aspirating a liver abscess. We located this clinically [no ultrasound or CT scan at KRCH in those days!]. Patient felt much improved after aspiration.


Forest Daugherty, family practice doctor from Columbus, Ohio made two trips to KRCH with his wife, Marsha. Their enthusiasm was infections.



Marsha Daugherty accompanied her husband, Dr. Forest Daugherty on two volunteer trips to KRCH. While Forest saw patients, Marsha led a charge to dust and wash glass louvers as well as scrub walls and clean shelves. When Forest was not examining patients, he and Marsha worked together to sand and varnish some of the woodwork in staff housing.



Mr. and Mrs. Don Cross, November 18, 1995
Don (electrician) and Jeanette Cross from Western Australia. Don came to KRCH two or three times. He did extensive wiring jobs and over-saw the installation of a hospital-wide suction system.



Dr. Jim Smith, ear, nose and throat specialist from Oregon, USA, evaluates a patient with a large goiter (enlarged thyroid gland). We later removed this under local anesthesia.



Dr. Smith made a side trip to KRCH following a medical conference in Malaysia, which we had both attended. Here Dr. Smith is operating to remove the large goiter pictured above (Phil assisting).



Dr. Steve Parker came to KRCH for an elective rotation as a medical student. Later he returned as a resident and still later, while he was an attending physician at Oregon Health and Sciences University. The white streaks on his face are from the application of a cooling slurry of water and mentholated powder. This was applied by someone on the hospital staff as a gesture of goodwill and compassion during one of the hottest days of the hot season. In his hands Steve is holding a generous helping of mangoes and sticky rice.



Dr. Veeraphan evaluating a patient at KRCH
Dr. Veeraphan evaluating a possible candidate for eye surgery at KRCH



Dr. Veeraphan working on an eye patient in the operating room at the Kwai River Christian Hospital. Most of his visits were in the 1990’s. He performed extracapsular cataract extractions with intraocular lens placement.



Dr. Veeraphan and team
Dr. Veeraphan, eye surgeon, and his team came every three months for several years. The vehicle they used was donated by CBM.



This man had particularly dense cataracts. His grandson (center) had been his guide, leading him around with a stick. After cataract surgery he was able to walk independently. He was pleased with that and also very pleased that he was now able to see his grandson for the first time!



Cataract patient being led by grandson before his cataract surgery. The look of anxiety on his face was soon to be replaced with a big smile!



Dr. Phil McDaniel consults with Dr. Doug Walsh (left) and Dr. Scott Miller (both connected with AFRIMS) on the day of the official opening of the AFRIMS-KRCH Clinical Research Building






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2 responses to “KRCH Archive: Volunteers from the Past”

  1. […] I’ve also been co-authoring a website for the volunteers at Kwai River Christian Hospital along with Dr Phil McDaniel – a former director here and still a very active supporter. Here’s a link to our Sweet December Christmas outreach event and other posts about things happening at the hospital and it’s history. […]

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