Duke neurosurgeons take Durham students to Uganda

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A group of students from the Durham Nativity School recently returned from a trip to Uganda (WTVD)

A group of students from the Durham Nativity School recently returned from an educational journey to Uganda with a neuro-medical team from Duke University Hospital.

The students helped deliver much-needed neurosurgery supplies. The surgeon behind the trip said he was motivated to change medicine in the developing country years ago.

"Well a pastor from Uganda came to my church about a decade ago and basically told me I was going to go to Uganda and do great things," said Dr. Michael Haglund, Duke University neurosurgeon and professor. "And I didn't really believe him, but when I started looking at the neurosurgery and just the lack of neurosurgeons there - they only had five neurosurgeons for 30 million people."

Haglund has been making mission trips to Uganda for 10 years now. He hopes that through their efforts, the number of neurosurgeons in Uganda will grow from five to 25 by 2025.

So far, their program has helped graduate three neurosurgeons. Another seven will graduate soon.

Haglund has made it his mission to help train future surgeons in Uganda, but he also wants to change the face of neurosurgery in North Carolina.

"The question is, could you move the pipeline way earlier, even earlier than medical school?" he mused. "So I heard about the Nativity School and the great things they are doing and I asked if we could run a leadership course this year."

Haglund wants to attract more diverse candidates for medical school.

"He would come in and he would bring in various doctors to kind of talk about their role, their job, but to also throw in a piece of leadership," said QuRita Hunter, director of graduate support at Durham Nativity School.

He brought eight kids on his trip to Uganda to deliver over $10 million worth of supplies. Haglund also brought a team of medical professionals from Duke to train doctors there - inspiring the children.

"I'm kind of interested in medicine after this trip," 13-year-old Amir Britton said.

The trip opened the students' eyes to how their peers live in Africa and gave them a newfound appreciation for doctors here in the U.S.

"To help kids, or like people who need that, so they will be able to live and that's like kind of amazing," 13-year-old Giovanni Escobar said.

"I really want to thank Dr. Haglund who really provided this trip for us," Britton said. "And I'm just like really thankful."

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