Our trip to Angkor Children's hospital - Beverley Newman, MD
We arrived in the late afternoon after a very long trip and 2 days of passport difficulties in Thailand to be faced with an interminable customs line at the Siem Reap airport. Dr. Luyda's smiling face and bounding energy was a great boon as he made his way to us and quickly shepherded us through customs.
This set the tone for our entire visit. People were wonderful to interact with, interesting and enthusiastic.We felt welcomed and appreciated from the hospital physicians and other personnel to all the people we met and ate with at the white house. The accommodations were spare but fine, the food plentiful and interesting, especially the amazing variety and beautifully served fruit..
Dr. Luyda arranged for us to get bicycles and that is how we commuted to the hospital and got around at night to nearby "pub" street. I worked in radiology with Luyda while my husband helped with equipment maintenance and repair. We had brought some requested equipment and books with us, donated with money collected from my colleagues at Childrenâ€™s Hospital , Pittsburgh.
It was an interesting ( and humbling) experience to be without the mod cons of CT and MR and have only Xray and US to work with. Dr. Luyda taught me some cardiac US imaging techniques and we performed many different and some very novel US studies together and reviewed numerous radiographs he had collected. Despite limited equipment I was really impressed with the quality of the imaging done. I also gave several lectures and reviewed a lot of teaching material with Dr. Luyda. It was very interesting to have the opportunity to participate in clinical rounds on the wards and ICU and some clinics as well as interact with other visiting physicians including an orthopedic surgeon, dentist and adolescent GYN physician.
Socially we were not neglected. Dr. Luyda arranged for one of the ICU nurses to be our guide for a day at Angkor Wat temples an amazing experience from dawn to dusk. He also sent us by buggy to visit the floating villages and took us to a Cambodian traditional buffet with dancing entertainment and to the local silk farm and reservoir. His unflagging enthusiasm and creativity were apparent throughout.
In retrospect it was a great experience that I would love to repeat , hopefully for a longer time. It was sobering to see people manage with so much less. Complex cardiac and other conditions such as tumors are sadly hopeless in that environment. Siem Reap is a city of great contrasts from the dusty dirt roads and makeshift roadside shops and markets of the "old " town to the ostentatious huge hotels on the other side of town serving the burgeoning tourist visitors to the temples. Corruption and graft are all too apparent in Cambodia. Nonetheless I would strongly recommend this experience to other interested pediatric radiologists.