Dr. Mark Randall, a general surgeon at Walker Baptist Medical Center, has also worked frequently in China. Randall spoke about his travels Monday to members of the Kiwanis Club of Jasper.
Randall said his time at hospitals in China has been spent training doctors in laparoscopic surgery.
“Our family has lived in China for a total of 12 years,” Randall said. “We will be there for about four years and then come back to the United States for a year or so.”
Despite teaching during his time in China, Randall said he has also learned techniques, especially in surgeries involving liver and stomach cancer.
Randall grew up in Zimbabwe. His father was a surgeon in that African nation for 30 years.
“I help him with surgeries when I was about 13, but I didn’t think I wanted to be in the medical field,” he said. “Things changed and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Growing up in that atmosphere has given me an appreciation for international medicine. We’ve had our share of challenges working in China, but having that background has helped.”
Randall said learning the language (Mandarin) and the culture of China has been interesting.
“I spoke to a lady that I didn’t know in the elevator one day,” Randall said. “I told her ‘hello’ and asked if she was ‘okay.’ She looked shocked at me. Once I got to my floor, I asked the only doctor who spoke English. He said that I had asked her to go to the fifth floor and questioned if she have moved her bowels that day.”
Kiwanis International is currently teaming with UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus across the globe. Randall said he commended the group for its efforts.
“We had a real problem in Zimbabwe with a lot of babies getting tetanus and many of them died,” Randall said. “During my first stint in China, I experienced three people with tetanus and all of them died. The work Kiwanis is doing through this project is very important.”
Randall has been on staff at Walker Baptist since August, and he said he doesn’t expect any extended trips back to China in the near future.
“I love China and I’ve made some really good friends there, but we have family here at home to take care of, so we probably won’t be going back for a long amount of time for a while,” he said.