Dr. Kenneth White
Kenneth White began his medical mission work while a third-year surgery resident in Wilmington. He traveled to the Dominican Republic with another doctor to perform reconstructive surgeries, an experience that secured his resolve to make mission work a major part of his life.
As a plastic surgeon with Wilmington Plastic Surgery, White decided to adopt the Dominican Republic as his permanent mission home, beginning with more mission trips there in 1990. Through his work there, White became the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Medical Ministry International (MMI), a group that works to meet the medical-care needs among the world’s poor with solutions in medicine, patient care and health education. Through the organization, White is able to take 20 to 25 volunteers to the Dominican Republic each year to establish new medical facilities and bring much-needed equipment and supplies to the poor areas they visit. And with the help of Rusty Carter and Atlantic Packaging in Wilmington, White is now able to transport most of their equipment and supplies for free. “It has turned into a big and effective system,” White says of the outreach work they’re doing. “There is no way we could achieve what we are able to achieve without the help of the non-medical volunteers and other members of our community.”
As the Dominican Republic government does have a functioning public health system, the availability and quality of care is not consistent throughout the country. White describes the local facilities as small, 20- to 30-bed centers with two operating rooms. “The operating facilities really don’t get used,” White says. “We bring everything we need to perform treatments and procedures at the centers, and most of the work is done by medical teams traveling from village to village to treat individuals in need.” White and his teams work on a broad range of problems, such as cleft lip and palette surgeries, traumatic injuries and scars. During their trips they will perform more than 120 operations in eight working days.
In addition to his yearly trips to the Dominican Republic, White’s position with MMI takes him throughout the rest of the world, too, where he helps to emphasize the need for programs like this in developing areas. “This work, of course, is a miracle for the people we treat who would not have the help otherwise.” White says. “But in reality, it is almost a reverse mission because the volunteers go to these places and get a more realistic view of the rest of the world that they are able to bring back to their communities.”