Disaster relief mission: Tulsan doctors go to Philippines

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 11/29/2013 10:45 pm Published: 11/29/2013 10:43 pm

The Friday after Thanksgiving marks three weeks since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines.

The storm killed close to 5,600 people with another 1,700 missing and displaced close to 4 million people.

Tomorrow, a group of Tulsa doctors will be heading to the Philippines to offer not only medical care but emotional and spiritual support.

It will take more than 24 hours to get there but Dr. Val Tramonte and six of his colleagues from In His Image Family Medicine are preparing for the worst.

"(It was) kind of a chaotic living environment. And then people that are physically wounded and emotionally stressed," said Tramonte.

The doctors go armed with medicine and first aid supplies.

"A lot of the wounds we'll probably still see some of that, or complications of wounds like infections," Tramonte explained.

But this won't be the first time Tramonte has flown across the world into devastation.

"Pakistan, after the earthquake there, we spent some time in tents. We've been to Indonesia a couple of times after large earthquakes. And then Myanmar had a large typhoon a few years ago, as well," Tramonte said.

Each trip, he says, is a humbling experience.

"We have pain here, and things happen here that are very horrible. But just to be that close to so much difficulty and suffering just kind of sobers you."

This is a tough realization stepping out of the comforts of Tulsa.

"Just to see that much pain and destruction, it's a reality check, I think, for how comfortable America is and like how -- just how much we really have," Tramonte explained.

But with financial aid flowing in from all corners of the world, why physically go?

"There's something about a physical touch and a hand on your shoulder and just physically being there to say you're not forgotten and you're important to us," Tramonte said.

And though he leaves behind friends and family to stay in conditions most of us would find deplorable, he says trips like this are important for perspective in life.

"It also makes you realize how little you actually need to be OK, and how much we take for granted," Tramonte told FOX23.

Tramonte says he will keep us up to date on how the trip is going as much as he can, depending on access to phones and email.

We will, of course, pass along his updates.

He and his team plan to return to Tulsa a week from Sunday.

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