Dr. Bruce Sands went on his first medical mission in 2006 to Peru. “It was a humbling experience for me,” he said.
Dr. Sands recounted a memorable experience from that first trip:
“By faith, intraosseous needles*, which were neither requested nor usual equipment for missions like this, found their way into the shipping container sent by boat from the U.S. to Peru. I was made aware we had these needles just before we left to see patients in different towns along our route.
“At the end of our second day just before we left to travel to our next town we were asked if we would see a child that was very sick at the health post approximately a kilometer from where we set up our clinic. Upon arrival I noted that the toddler was markedly dehydrated and unresponsive, indicating she was gravely ill and in need of immediate intervention.The doctor at the health post had tried to establish an intravenous line, to give fluids, without success due to the collapse of her veins.
“I was able to insert the intraosseous needle, making it possible to give fluids and medicine she needed. She was subsequently transferred to the hospital in Chulucanas 6-8 hrs away, where our surgical team was. We continued our trip and returned to Chulucanas at the end of the week. The little girl we treated did well and returned home.
“By faith our team was in the right place at the right time, with the right medical device to impact a little girl’s life.”
Dr. Sands practiced emergency medicine for 32yrs before retiring from the full time practice of emergency medicine in 2013. He is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is a past member of the state of Illinois Trauma Committee and past co-chairman of the Illinois Tactical Emergency Medicine Committee. He spent the majority of his career practicing in Northern Illinois where he was a partner in two emergency medicine groups. He also served as the alternate medical director of Northern Illinois Emergency Medical System.
Along with his mission work in Peru, Dr. Sands has also traveled on missions to Colombia. He looks forward to expanding his participation in mission work as the medical director of the LAUGHH Foundation, Inc.
* Intraosseous needles are usually placed in long bones, like the tibia (shin) or femur (thigh bone) because long bones contain cavities called medullary or marrow cavities, which are a spongy network small sinuses that ultimately drain into the veins.