Humanitarian Mission in Eritrea: Employee Thomas Koob Committed to Helping Children in Need
In mid-May 2022, a team of eleven from the organisation »Children's Urology Team Austria for Eritrea« flew to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. The team included STORZ MEDICAL employee Thomas Koob. He accompanied the group of volunteer physicians and nurses from Southern Germany and Upper Austria on their charitable mission to provide children with urological treatment.
In 2015 STORZ MEDICAL donated a lithotripter including ultrasound equipment to the aid organisation, which was installed in Asmara in December in the same year. Normally, the helpers fly to Eritrea twice a year for one to two weeks. However, the Covid pandemic had prevented the team from entering the country since 2019, with the effect that the lithotripter had not been used since that time. The expertise of an experienced technician was required to put the device back into operation.
»An impressive experience«
Medical technologist Thomas Koob has been working for STORZ MEDICAL for 25 years and reports here about his personal impressions: »It must have awakened a deep-seated desire within me when my colleague Martin Linz asked me if I would be interested in taking part in a humanitarian mission. Although I didn't know what to expect, I didn't hesitate for a second and agreed.
The trip was an adventurous, impressive as well as emotional experience for me. On the outward journey, during a stopover in Istanbul, I got to know the team of ten working with the retired chief physician and »driver of the project« Dr Marcus Riccabona and the organiser Dr Fried Mittendorfer. Shortly after midnight, we landed in Asmara and were immediately struck by a number of impressions – be it the tough inspections at the airport or in the ramshackle minibus that brought us to the hotel. At about 2am, I finally fell into bed in my modest room. It was to be a short night and five exhausting days.
In this brief time, the team achieved an incredible amount. A total of 36 children underwent surgery, 19 stone treatments were performed with the lithotripter and 168 children were treated as out-patients. Due to their nutrition, many children in Eritrea already develop bilateral kidney or bladder stones at a young age. Boys in particular often suffer from incontinence, which would be treated immediately in Europe, but this is unfortunately not usually the case in poor countries. As a result, they often cannot go to school or participate in social life. Most children there do not lead an easy life. And I noticed that despite all of this, they do not complain, but bravely grit their teeth. When these little patients gave me a smile out of pure gratitude, it was a touching confirmation for me of what I was doing. That was rewarding to me in a way that I cannot describe. And that's probably why everyone in the team – whether already retired or just on leave – keeps coming back.
I have met great people here, especially Dr Marcus Riccabona and Dr Fried Mittendorfer, who tirelessly stick to their cause of »doing good«. I am proud to have been part of this great team, which means that while this was my first humanitarian mission, it certainly won't be my last.«
Paediatric Urology Team Austria for Eritrea
- Social project of the Rotary Club Linz-Altstadt and ArcheMed, Ärzte für Kinder in Not e.V.
- Commitment for over 18 years
- Medical care and training of the medical staff on site