Dynamic Medical Duo Returns from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

28 November 2023

Doctors Heywood in red polo shirts standing in front of a tropical garden
Dr Melinda Heywood and Dr Luke Heywood during their time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Obstetrician Dr Melinda Heywood and Anaesthetist Dr Luke Heywood, a remarkable brother-sister team of medical professionals, have recently completed a medical trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Their trip was carried out in collaboration with AusHeal, a not-for-profit organisation committed to uniting Australian healthcare professionals with the goal of advancing healthcare in developing countries.

Melinda's decision to embark on this trip was inspired by her brother Luke, who had undertaken several trips to the region before.

They went with a team of dedicated Australian medical professionals, including Cardiologists, Emergency Doctors, Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, and Radiographers.

Their destination was the bustling city of Goma, situated in close proximity to the most active volcano on the continent and near the border of neighbouring Rwanda.

During their two-week stay, Melinda and Luke worked at the Heal Africa Hospital, focusing on enhancing the skills and knowledge of local medical teams.

Melinda performed vaginal deliveries, emergency caesarean sections, managed ectopic pregnancies, and conducted training on vacuum-assisted delivery, a technique not commonly practiced in the region.

She mentioned that the hospital extends its services to remote areas by dispatching a team of clinicians to address fistulas for individuals who face challenges in reaching the hospital. During her time there, she had the opportunity to witness a fistula surgery.

“I was amazed by the determination of the doctors in the area who face such a complex and challenging work environment, they keep showing up for their patients,” she said.

Luke’s expertise in anaesthesiology and pain management greatly benefited the local medical community.

He said his faith served as a profound motivation for his involvement, and he regarded this mission as an opportunity to give back to the community and make a meaningful difference.

He stressed the importance of teaching medical professionals and empowering them to become mentors to others across the country.

According to Luke, "This trip was about working alongside our fellow medical practitioners and developing their skills in a sustainable way. With 90% unemployment in Goma and almost half the population under the age of 18, it's crucial to build these relationships and pass on knowledge to the next generation of doctors."

Both Melinda and Luke expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside the resilient, determined, and compassionate doctors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Their work is a testament to the power of international collaboration and the positive impact that skilled medical professionals can make in communities facing significant challenges.


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