When an earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, more than 330,000 people were killed and one million people were injured.

Dr. Vanderpool and medical students

Dr. David Vanderpool (left) visits with medical students on a mission trip to Haiti.

David M. Vanderpool, M.D., adjunct assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, was one of the physicians who arrived within 48 hours of the disaster to oversee and administer care to thousands of patients.

After the earthquake, Vanderpool returned to Haiti on a monthly basis, organizing mobile medical clinics that treated more than 1,000 patients a week.

In 2013, Vanderpool and his wife, Laurie, decided to sell their home and his medical practice to create Live Beyond, a humanitarian organization and compound in Thomazeau, Haiti, one of the poorest regions of the country. They moved with their children to the LiveBeyond compound, where they now serve the medical, educational and spiritual needs of Haitians full-time.

LiveBeyond provides medical and maternal health care, clean water, orphanage support and community development to the oppressed. While locals can visit the compound themselves, LiveBeyond utilizes trucks and vans to transport patients in to the compound for health care and education – an opportunity they otherwise would not receive in their remote locations.

medical student with baby

A medical student works with a child at the clinic Vanderpool has set up in Haiti.

The base includes a fully functional surgical hospital, demonstration farm, chapel, and missionary housing. The LiveBeyond compound has created a long-term presence in the community, allowing the Vanderpools to fight disease, provide clean water, care for local orphans, support expectant mothers and implement development projects.

In July 2014, a group of faculty and students from the College of Medicine participated in a medical mission trip to assist the LiveBeyond organization by providing medical care and humanitarian aid to the residents of Thomazeau. The trip also provided medical students invaluable education and inspiration.

Ruth Bush, M.D., J.D, M.P.H., vice dean for academic affairs and vice dean for the Bryan/College Station Campus, and Lee Ann Ray, Ed.D., associate dean for external relations and chief of staff, led a group of students on the trip that included research on a recent outbreak of Chikungunya virus.

“For our students, this type of experience is invaluable,” Bush said. “The students gain real-world experience in international medicine and enhance their medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills while serving the underserved. These opportunities increase their flexibility and adaptability to new and different situations.“

Four more teams of faculty members and medical students will be participating in mission trips to Haiti this year.

On Feb. 18, Vanderpool will share his experiences in Haiti as part of an Education Grand Round lecture titled “Developing a Health Care System in Haiti.” The lecture will begin at noon in HPEB LL11A, which is located on the Bryan campus. The presentation will also be livestreamed to other TAMHSC campuses.

— Ellen Davis

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