THUNDER BAY — Vacationers looking to enjoy the surf and sandy beaches of Cuba in the coming cold-weather travel season will combine their trip with a charity mission.
Many travellers boarding direct flights from Thunder Bay to the resorts at Varadero will also carry valuable medical supplies for the Children's Hospital of Matzanzas, 30 kilometres away.
They'll take suitcases full of everything from simple dressings to sophisticated medical equipment.
Among the supplies that local nurse Donna Price and her companion plan to bring when they fly south on Nov. 13 is a halothane anaesthetic vaporizer.
Halothane is the main anaesthetic agent currently used in Cuba, but it is no longer used in Canadian hospitals.
As it happened, six months ago an area hospital had donated a brand new Datex Ohmeda Mark 7 halothane vaporizer to MEMO, the Thunder Bay charity that recycles medical equipment. The vaporizer, still in its original packaging, had been sitting on a MEMO storage shelf.
Dr. Abel Santana, a paediatric surgeon at the Matzanzas hospital, will be waiting for it when Price arrives at the Varadero airport.
Price says "We have been to Cuba many times. Being able to help in this way makes this time special."
Last year, MEMO provided the same Cuban facility with a state-of-the-art anaesthetic machine from a district hospital that was closing its operating room.
More than 40 Thunder Bay tourists last year carried 680 kilos of life-enhancing and lifesaving supplies to the island nation, including asthma medication, ostomy items, dressings, breathing tubes for children, suction machines and oximeters for measuring patients' oxygen levels.
According to MEMO, Cuban customs officers allow entry for these products with no hassle.
Vacationers interested in participating may contact Dr. Jerome Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.