UQ medical student Bayden Sales checks on Tamasipini Palenapa, 5, at Apia Hospital. Photo Bruce Long, The Courier-Mail
UQ medical student Bayden Sales checks on Tamasipini Palenapa, 5, at Apia Hospital. Photo Bruce Long, The Courier-Mail
20 October 2009

A group of UQ medical students have sprung into action in the wake of the Samoan tsunami, raising $2000 in a distinctly Australian way before heading to the island nation for a month-long internship.

A marathon sausage sizzle at St Lucia saw hundreds of students and staff get behind the group, who leave for Samoa on October 23 and will be based at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia.

The trip was organised in January for a first-year elective course, with recent events encouraging the students to take their fundraising to another level.

“Before the tsunami the hospital was already reaching out for medical aid,” UQ medical student Meg O’Connell said.

“The hospital was constantly sending us emails asking for basic things like gloves and hand wash, which aren’t standard over there. Other things they were in need of were blood pressure meters and blood glucose meters.”

The group have sourced a large amount of medical equipment and supplies, with the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital generously donating 40 laryngoscopes – an expensive device used to resuscitate patients.

The Mater, PA and Sunnybank Private hospitals have also pitched in with swabs, breather bags and suctioning equipment, while Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand have offered to transport the items free of charge. The University of Queensland pitched in an additional $10,000 to assist the students with their relief efforts.

Ms O’Connell said there would be basic tasks to be completed upon their arrival, such as cleaning up the hospital, which was covered in rubbish after the tsunami. She said the group were grateful for the opportunity to apply their skills and learn more about Samoan culture and language.

“We are also going to different parts of the island and screen blood pressures, blood glucose, height and weight – basic makers of health – and just make sure that people are ok without any transmissible diseases,” she said.

The students have set up a fundraising appeal, with Brisbane businesses and schools also supplying toys, sporting equipment and stationery to take to Samoa.

Those interested in donating can contact jessica.phillipsyelland@uqconnect.edu.au or 0427 924 709.

Media: Meg O’Connell (0423 199 090) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)