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Willmar physician to depart this week for Haiti

WILLMAR -- Dr. Kevin Unger of Willmar will leave early Saturday for a weeklong mission trip to Haiti.

Unger, a urologist at Affiliated Community Medical Centers, had planned the trip in September, long before the Jan. 12 earthquake shook the country.

"The mission clearly changed wi-th the earthquake," he said in a telephone in-terview.

Unger sa-id he's been amazed by the support he's received from Willmar area individuals and businesses.

He is a bit uncomfortable with the attention he's gotten, though. "It's not about me; it's about the Haitian people."

Unger and a team of other international doctors are bound for Limbe, Haiti.

It's about an hour north of Port-au-Prince, the devastated capital city. Limbe didn't suffer the devastation of Port-au-Prince.

The medical facility there is intact, and "it's become a triage facility."

While he's not sure exactly what type of medical care he will be providing, Unger expects to see a lot of "crush injuries." Most likely, he added, he'll see medical situations he's never seen before and may never see again.

This will be a first mission trip for Unger, who has been interested in doing this for some time.

"Our skills are portable throughout the world," he said. "It's a privilege to be able to help ... to be of service."

Unger acknowledged that "it's not necessarily safe there," but he's not too concerned about that.

"I'm more worried about doing the best we can do," he said. "The needs are so great."

As word has spread about his trip, he has seen an outpouring of support -- "emotional, spiritual, monetary."

People have made large and small cash donations, Rice Hospital has donated medical supplies to take along, and the Cash Wise Clinic Pharmacy donated large bottles of antibiotics. "Those are going to be lifesaving," Unger said.

The support for the Haitians "has been wonderful," he said. "I'm just in awe of America, of Americans."

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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