10/09/07 — Rotary Club members work on project in Chile for orthopedic patients

View Archive

Rotary Club members work on project in Chile for orthopedic patients

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on October 9, 2007 1:45 PM

Drs. Bob and Charlotte Campbell of Goldsboro originally went to Chile to catch fish.

Instead, they caught a plan -- one that is enabling the Three Eagles Rotary Club in Goldsboro to help an island people who suffer in large numbers from orthopedic problems.

These Chileans have doctors who can examine, diagnose and operate on them. However, many of them don't have the means to buy equipment that can help them in their recovery.

Wheelchairs, canes, walkers and more are needed by the people of the Grande Isle de Chiloe, an isolated part of the country seen by few tourists.

The Campbells found it only because they had hired a driver who, during a tour, showed them the area.

While there, the couple discovered a Rotary Club and decided to attend a meeting. Climbing a set of stairs to the second floor of a small building, they entered and were met with surprise -- and warmth -- by the members of the Rotary Club of Castro. The members had never been visited by Americans before, the Campbells said. Nor had they ever seen a woman Rotarian.

They spoke no English and the Campbells spoke only a bit of Spanish. After several attempts to communicate, a club member placed a phone call to Giacomo Villa, a fellow member who knew English. He came to the meeting, entertaining the Campbells with his energy and outgoing personality.

Villa's English was limited -- he knew words, but not necessarily how to put them in correct sentences -- but he was able to communicate clearly enough to invite the Campbells to dinner. The next evening, as they dined, he told them about the Rotary Club's project.

The members were collecting money to buy equipment, and Villa thought it would be a wonderful idea if the Campbells' Rotary Club would join them in the effort.

He told the couple that he bet there was a lot of equipment in the United States that was being disposed of and that could help his people.

The Campbells, who made their trip in January, agreed to propose turning the project into a collaborative effort between his club and Three Eagles.

It was a proposal that Three Eagles accepted.

Members started collecting items in July. Several pieces of equipment have been picked up and are sitting in a donated unit at Horne Storage. Wayne Memorial Hospital, MERCI, First Presbyterian Church and The Salvation Army have contributed, and donations from individuals are being sought as well.

Needed are manual and electric wheelchairs, single-point and quad canes, walkers, bedside commodes and forearm crutches. They should be new or used and in good shape.

Although not used for orthopedics, portable incubators are also needed.

"If someone has a baby, it takes six hours for her to get medical help," Charlotte said. The incubator can help keep the baby warm and safe during that wait.

The people of the island don't live in abject poverty, but they lack many things. Travel is by foot, horse, ox cart and, in the busiest part of the island, bus. Supplies arrive via water at one of a few ports.

The Campbells said they think this area of the world has so many orthopedic problems for two reasons. One is genetics. The other is the number of people who suffer from the bends due to diving. People can get the bends if, after diving, they return to the surface too quickly. That causes air bubbles in the blood stream. People who have the bends often get crippling arthritis, Charlotte said.

Bob said that they noticed several crippled people during their visit, but it was not until their time with the Rotary Club that they realized how big a problem the area had.

The Campbells are hoping that Wayne County residents will remember orthopedic equipment that is lying unused in their attics and will contribute it to Three Eagles to help the Chileans. Equipment will be collected through the end of the calendar year and will then be shipped.

The Campbells are willing to pick up donations. They can be reached at 778-5336, 580-6053 or 580-4994. People can also call club president Dr. Bryson Bateman at 778-6205.