Be The Good: Troy Sanders

Be The Good is back and better than ever! We recently donated funds to Troy Sanders, a fourth-year medical student at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who visited Kenya to give back to those in need. He traveled with Rad-Aid International, whose mission is to improve and optimize access to medical imaging and radiology in low-resource regions of the world to increase radiology’s contribution to global public health initiatives and patient care.

As part of a collaborative effort with Rad-Aid International and the University of Nairobi, interventional radiology faculty volunteers have worked for several years to help establish the first interventional radiology fellowship program in Kenya. These faculty members visit the site at Kenyatta National Hospital to supplement the education of the interventional radiology physician trainees through lectures and hands-on teaching.

After Troy’s trip, we asked him a few questions to learn more about his experience in Kenya.

Why did you decide to go on this trip?

I decided to go on this trip for a few reasons. The most prevalent is that giving back to people less fortunate than myself is a lifelong journey. I have grown up with many opportunities only because of the country I was born in. Providing resources for hospitals in dire need is an easy way to significantly impact a large group of people. In the suitcase of donations I brought from Terumo and Boston Scientific, we had a supply of an entire year’s worth of biopsy needles for their patients. The amount of impact that has is enormous.

Additionally, I learned amazing things from the physicians there about how to do more with so few resources. It was amazing to witness the amount of work and influence the medical teams can have there, with many more limitations compared to the U.S.

The final reason I went there was to make connections for research. In Kenya, there is a large amount of a parasite called echinococcus, which can travel to the liver, causing something called hydatid cysts. We never see those in the U.S. because it is only endemic to certain areas—typically those with poor water sanitation and those that are pastoralist in nature, like Kenya. I was able to connect with the physicians there, so I can share the great work they’re doing for their patients suffering from this condition.

What is one thing you experienced during the service trip that stuck out?

One thing that stood out to me was the corruption that limits the healthcare field there in Nairobi. Outside medical donations are necessary because the government limits the number of medical supplies the hospitals can buy for their patients due to concerns that the hospital staff will steal the items and resell them elsewhere. For this reason, patients must bring their own medical catheters, wires, stents, IVC filters, etc., to their procedures.

What was your favorite day/event of the trip?

My favorite day was when my bag full of medical supplies was apprehended at customs. Kenyatta Hospital had to send me in an ambulance to the airport as no other transport was available. I had to do some finagling to convince the airport customs that the bag would be donated and used by the hospital—we were not selling it. After calling in a few favors, the bag was released, and we got the hospital the supplies their patients desperately needed.

What was the most humbling experience of this trip?

The most humbling experience was when a patient brought the wrong medical supplies to their nephrostomy tube placement procedure. He had waited months for this desperately needed procedure. He had to be turned away for another number of days until the medical supply company he was using could get him the correct catheter. It was a great and horrifying example of the barriers Kenyatta Hospital and its patients go through.

To learn more about REED’s Be The Good program and to apply for funding, visit our main page.