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Face of Defense: Army Surgeon Shares Experience During Honduras Deployment

By Army 1st Lt. Jenniffer Rodriguez Joint Task Force Bravo

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, June 03, 2016 — Army Col. (Dr.) Kulvinder Bajwa, command surgeon with the Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element, performed an advanced laparoscopic surgery, participated in a General Surgery residency training program and presented lectures to residents on robotic and laparoscopic surgeries at Hospital Escuela Universitario here May 13.

Hospital Escuela Universitario, founded in 1969, is a public university hospital with optimal levels of technology and trained professionals.

“This is a teaching hospital. It’s not only a medical school, but also is the residence training program for surgery,” said Dr. Miguel Coello, JTF-Bravo- MEDEL liaison officer, who coordinated Bajwa’s visit. “The school has limited resources to do laparoscopic surgeries, so for the residents to have Colonel Bajwa, who has the expertise and experience in advance laparoscopic surgeries, is something very rare.

“Not only do the residents and attendants get an opportunity to see new procedures and new technologies, but they also get to share new ways and techniques to perform surgeries with limited resources,” Coello continued. “This is also a learning process for the surgeons that are coming from the [United] States, to learn things in a different way, to learn ways to be efficient with the limited things that we have here.”

Enhancing Relations

Bajwa, 47, who hails from Houston, Texas, accepted the invitation to teach at Hospital Escuela Universitario with the intent to enhance host nation and U.S. relations.

“Having the opportunity to come out in a professional environment and have an exchange of professional ideas goes a long way to foster good relations and capabilities on both sides,” Bajwa said. “I was more than happy to be here and be part of this unique occasion.”

The day began with Bajwa presenting lectures to residents in the General Surgery residency program of Hospital Escuela. After the lectures, Bajwa then scrubbed in with selected residents and performed a laparoscopic sigmoid colostomy procedure for obstructing rectal cancer, a first for this hospital.

“We know that they are capable people, they just don’t have enough resources.” Bajwa said. “They know that we are also capable people when we don’t have the luxuries that we are very familiar with back in the United States -- that we can really operate and be expeditionary.”

Bajwa began his Army career in 1992 and graduated from the University of Texas Medical School in 1995. In 24 years, Bajwa has been on five overseas deployments, including multiple mobilizations to Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, and his current deployment to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.