Lindsey Gideon is an Associate Product Manager at NuVasive® for International Marketing and an active volunteer for the NuVasive Spine Foundation™ (NSF) not only through her hands on support at fundraising events, but also through her participation in the NSF payroll deduction program.  Lindsey and countless others directly donate money to the NSF bi-weekly through a deduction in their payroll. This steady support helps build a strong base from which we are able to fund mission trips around the globe and provide surgical support to hundreds of patients annually. In July 2015, to help recognize and reward this ongoing support, the NSF held a “Giving Hands” drawing where the winner would join the December 2015 mission to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition to being a part of the payroll program, participants were asked to send in a photo of their “giving hands” (an NSF hand gesture representing the NSF logo), as well as a short paragraph on why they would want to be part of a mission trip and what it would mean to them.

Lindsey was our lucky winner! Joining Lindsey on the mission trip were Dr. Isaac Moss, Dr. Douglas Orndorff, Matrix Medical’s Justin Rangel, and Dimension Medical’s Sean Murphy.  The team was onsite at Kenyatta National Hospital for four days of surgery and lectures.  Together with surgical fellows and residents, the team was able to operate on and help a record 18 patients, the most surgeries to-date on a single mission trip.

When asked why she chose to participate in the “Giving Hands” program, Lindsey replied, “I found myself drawn to the NuVasive Spine Foundation and its mission to provide life-changing surgery to patients in some of the poorest regions of the world and with such great needs. I also believed that going on this mission trip would bring me directly into the real life patient, doctor, and surgical experiences, which in turn would help make me more effective in my day-to-day work at NuVasive as I continue to help market our spinal solutions globally.”

Lindsey fully embraced the learning experience that the Nairobi mission trip offered her both personally and clinically. Lindsey said she learned three lessons within the first hour of arrival that were representative of her trip:

1. You will be tired the entire trip.
2. TIA – This is Africa. Drop your preconceived notions of what you will experience, and embrace the experience.
3. A nice cold Tusker and a few good laughs with the group are the best cure for a long or stressful day.

While the pace of the mission trip and the long hours were tiring, it was an incredibly rewarding opportunity to see up close and personal the work that the NSF team and supporting surgeons are taking on. Lindsey was surprised by the variety and severity of patient pathologies and impressed with the resourceful and creative approaches of the NuVasive surgeons in circumstance that were both unfamiliar and challenging.  She was also surprised by her own ability to embrace the experience. Reflecting back on her time at Kenyatta National Hospital, Lindsey recalled, “The excitement of the patients in the waiting room, the determination and resourcefulness of the surgeons and the gratefulness of the patients post-surgery created such a palpable energy around the whole trip which is both satisfying and leaves you wanting to return again and give back even more.”