Santa Monica pediatrician Bob Hamilton is launching his 25th overseas medical mission trip with over 20 doctors, nurses and volunteers departing for West Africa on March 26. This team, organized by Lighthouse Medical Missions, will travel the country of Tanzania.

Hamilton is returning to Africa after having been evacuated from Guinea Bissau last year and quarantined in the Gambia as fears of the Ebola outbreak spread. The team had only been seeing patients for two days when word that the borders would be closing sent the team packing in a hurry.

As a result of the Ebola epidemic which affected many of his African friends in Sierra Leone, a country which has seen his medical teams 10 times, Dr. Hamilton launched an Ebola Relief Campaign raising over $150,000 which was used to send two containers filled with food, medicine, protection gear and fresh clothing.

The Tanzania group will be the first Lighthouse Medical Mission team to venture into that country. This visit will be on the heels of “Dr. Bob” having run the LA Marathon for the fourth time with Team Lighthouse Medical Missions to raise money for the Tanzania efforts.

Hamilton has been leading teams since 1987 when he helped the severely wounded and maimed people of Sierra Leone after the Blood Diamond Wars. The need was overwhelming for about a five year period, but Lighthouse teams grew larger in response, with increased donations of supplies and gifts from Bug Bam, Crocs, the Hilton Foundation, Mayor Richard Riordan and other interested groups. The team sees many birth defects that could have been prevented if the child had received medical care at birth. Malnutrition bordering on starvation, worms, high blood pressure, and chronic skin diseases along with open wounds from burning trash are common, as well as malaria. Treatment for cancer and tumors are sent on for more extensive medical care with treatment paid for by Lighthouse.

When Hamilton returns, he will be hard at work on his flagship fundraiser Walk To Africa. This year marks the 7th annual Walk To Africa on May 16. Opening ceremonies are held at Crescent Bay Park followed by a 4- and 8-mile walk-a-thon. Over 600 people are expected to attend with funds raised exceeding $100,000. This annual event funds the yearly medical missions. Visit www.walktoafrica.com for more information.

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