A total of 100 patients were consulted by the interplast team and 35 procedures were carried out.
Loporto said the response from the local team was positive and the program allowed the ongoing development of relationships with the local surgical and nursing staff by team members on return visits.
Loporto also commended the hard work of the staff at Vaiola Hospital for a good coordination of the program and the initial identification of the patients for surgery.
“This trip overall was as good as the previous visits. This is testimony to all the hard work carried out by the local surgical team at Vaiola Hospital in ensuring that the local coordination of the program runs smoothly and the pre-selection of patients,” said Loporto.
The Australia and New Zealand Interplast team faced a slight setback which resulted in the clinic starting a day late.
“The team did face challenges as there was flight delay into Tonga due to poor weather on arrival in Tonga. The team's flight was unable to land and they were diverted to Samoa where they stayed a night. The team arrived a day late, and the clinic which was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon, took place on the Friday morning. This meant the team had less time on the ground but did their best and worked hard to make up for the lost time”.
The Interplast team plans to visit Tonga in early 2018 as part of their annual visit.
Interplast medical teams are funded by the Australian Government and Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand.
They have been visiting Tonga since 1983 to provide free surgical intervention programs to people with a disability.
The teams have carried out a total of 2663 consultations and 1561 life-changing procedures to date in Tonga.
The Interplast team is based in Melbourne and works across Australia and New Zealand sending volunteers to the Pacific islands from both Australia and New Zealand.
Photo: Interplast team to Tonga