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LDS volunteers return from medical service overseas


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Dozens of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who volunteered their health care skills overseas have returned home. They traveled to Central America while on board a U.S. Navy ship that doubles as a hospital.

The ship is called "Comfort," and that is what it helps provide to thousands of people in developing countries who are in need of medical care, including surgeries. The Church helped to coordinate 40 volunteers to work with Navy personnel and other relief organizations.

Over the past couple of months, the ship has made stops in Antigua, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Doctors, nurses and volunteers treat patients on the ship, which is typically docked in each country for about 10 days. They perform surgeries that can be difficult to come by in the countries -- operations that can dramatically improve the patients' quality of life.

A volunteer from Pleasant Grove called her month-long service on board the ship life-changing. "It's just these little things to us here in America, little procedures that change their lives forever. It was an amazing thing to see. When you see these people that have so little, you are grateful for what you have and you are also mindful of your responsibility and the privilege of helping them," Dawn Walker said. [CLICK HERE to visit the group's blog about their service]

The Church says it also made a contribution of supplies to the countries, donating about 250 pallets of humanitarian-relief supplies. They include medical items, vitamins, hygiene kits, newborn kits, school kits, orphanage supplies, quilts, toys, first aid kits and blankets.

So far, the program known as Continuing Promise has treated 56,000 people and provided 1,000 surgeries.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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Sam Penrod

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