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York gynecologist’s trips to Ghana offer relief to thousands of women
Dr. Marsha Bornt knows how most women feel about visiting the gynecologist. At her York Township gynecology practice, she strives to make her patients feel comfortable no matter how routine the procedure. More than 5,000 miles away in Africa, women face much different health problems.
“I have never seen anything in the U.S. like the patients I see in Ghana,” she says.
That’s why Dr. Bornt has taken 14 trips there since 2007, performing life-changing surgeries to thousands of women. And her goal overseas is the same as it is at Apple Hill Gynecology: Give women the care they deserve.
Waiting for help
Developing countries like Ghana often have only one doctor who treats entire communities.
When Dr. Bornt first started traveling to Apam – a small, coastal town on the west side of the continent just north of the equator – there was no gynecologist at the local hospital.
“Some of these women have waited years to even meet someone capable of performing surgeries,” Dr. Bornt says.
One of the most common procedures needed there is a hysterectomy, which is a surgery to remove all of the uterus. The operation alleviates painful periods, helps with excessive bleeding or provides comfort when the uterus has shifted after childbirth.
Many of the women in Apam requiring help have massive fibroid tumors, some of them so large that the women look pregnant with twins or triplets.
In the United States, it’s relatively easy for a woman to get a hysterectomy.
“In Ghana, these women don’t have a choice but to carry the tumor until someone comes to help them,” Dr. Bornt says. “They truly feel relief, joy, comfort – so many emotions – in knowing it’s gone.”
Sanitation and hygiene
Dr. Bornt’s service in Ghana doesn’t end in the operating room. As a longtime member and past president of the Rotary Club of York, Dr. Bornt strives to live by the organization’s mission of “service above self.”
With more than 35,000 clubs around the world, Dr. Bornt’s Rotary connection put her in touch with the Rotary Club of Apam, where a water, sanitation, and hygiene project has become the local focus.
Because Apam lacks proper sanitation facilities, toilets, and clean water, the Rotary clubs felt the easiest way to teach young children about the importance of toilets and handwashing was to put toilets and showers in the Salvation Army Primary School and Junior High School.
Committed to service
Dr. Bornt says her service to those in Apam reflects the whole reason she got into medicine more than 40 years ago. “I feel that we have so much in the United States, and along with that comes a responsibility to share it and to train others,” she says. “You gain much more than you give.”
Her stories about the service trips she’s taken focus on other people – the people who live in Ghana, the team she works with and those who donate money to help their cause.
“She is utterly committed to service,” says the Rev. Patrick Rooney, the president of the Rotary Club of York. “And she does it in a self-effacing way.”
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