Larissa Combs, MD
Larissa Combs, MD
Anesthesiology · Seattle, WA

Face to Face Cambodia

January 8th
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Project Description

The Northwest Medical Volunteers/Face to Face Mission to Phnom Penh began back in 2006 and after a 3-year hiatus, due to COVID, they are finally making the trip back January 8-14th, 2023. The humanitarian mission’s focus is to provide care to the Khmer patients with congenital and traumatic deformities, mostly in the form of microtia, cleft lip and palate repairs. This is accomplished through a collaboration between Stanford, University of Washington and the healthcare providers at Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh. 

The process begins on January 8th with pre-operative health screening by myself and the other anesthesiologists and the surgical team. Subsequently this is followed by 4 days of operating with 2-3 teams.

As a pediatric anesthesiologist in training, I hope to touch as many lives as possible on my first medical trip. I plan to provide a safe anesthetic to our patients, while working alongside 3 of my current staff anesthesiologists at Seattle Children's Hospital and the anesthesia providers in Phnom Penh. In addition to the clinical contribution, I hope that I can make a bigger impact through education and training.

Population Served

I will be working at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh during this mission trip. I am optimistic that through our work we can improve access to healthcare for the local community in Phnom Penh.
In Cambodia, like in many developing countries, there are few options for children to receive a full range of specialized treatment for congenital deformities. Hopefully this mission will allow us to care for those in need and provide the education and resources that local physicians can implement in their own practice in the future.

Expected Impact

The overall goal of this mission is to serve the Khmer people who have little or no access to health care in Phnom Penh. This is not accomplished by a 'fly in, fly out' model, but instead through a partnership with Dr. Theavy Mok, our host, and his colleagues. Our objective as anesthesiologists along with our surgical counterparts is to both teach and learn in an exchange of ideas, and to meet the medical needs of as many as we can. I have been told that through this partnership they are able to get follow-up on the patients, and indeed see them back on subsequent missions.

Trip Photos & Recap

I joined the Northwest Medical Volunteers and Smile Cambodia at the Khmer Soviet Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in January 2023. We were the first international group to return to this hospital post COVID.

As a pediatric anesthesiologist in training, I worked under the supervision of three mentors from my fellowship program at Seattle Children's Hospital to provide peri-operative anesthesia care. During our short time there, the team screened over 130 patients and performed over 40 operations- cleft palate, cleft lip and microtia reconstruction.

I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of this special week. This was my first medical mission trip and an unforgettable one to say the least.