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Mon Valley doctor lends services to El Salvador

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Dr. Vasu Malepati recently returned from a medical mission in El Savador. Portrait taken on April 29, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Dr. Vasu Malepati recently returned from a medical mission in El Savador. Portrait taken on April 29, 2013.
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Dr. Vasu Malepati performs an exam at a home in El Salvador.

Dr. Vasu Malepati of Monongahela Valley Hospital lent his expertise in ear, nose and throat medicine this spring in the small, densely populated Central American country of El Salvador.

The doctor worked in a clinic treating patients and providing them with needed medications. He traveled there with his wife, Dr. Durga Malepati, a pediatrician in Charleroi, and their daughter, Swathi Malepati, a medical student.

During the family's medical mission with the Foundation for International Medicine Relief for Children, they made almost 10 home medical visits in addition to working at clinics.

It's one of many medical expeditions the Malepati family has undertaken in more than 12 countries over the past 15 years.

“You can see the smile in their face,” Malepati said about the patients.

Among their missions, the family has traveled to Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Peru, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

“Most of them are poor countries,” he said. “We go a lot of time to small, rural (areas).”

On a trip once to a small village in British Guiana, a patient sought help from Malepati for a hearing problem. Malepati said he cleaned wax from the man's ear.

“His hearing improved immediately. He said, ‘You are God to me,' ” Malepati said. “I was surprised to hear that kind of praise or comment, feedback. You get more inspiration to do more medical missions.”

In El Salvador, the Malepati family taught schoolchildren personal hygiene and the English language.

The life expectancy in El Salvador is increasing, and infection rates are decreasing, a hospital news release stated.

Malepati said they sometimes undertake non-medical missions, such as distributing mosquito nets, blankets and hats in Kenya.

Malepati began medical mission work in India, where he attended medical school. He carried that philanthropy with him to the United States.

“It gives me very much happiness, satisfaction and the purpose also,” he said.

While in India, Malepati helped build a library called Millennium Library, and he met Mother Teresa.

The Malepatis' other children — Sarath, a doctor, and Sunitha, an attorney — have also traveled with their parents on aid trips.

Malepati, an ear, nose and throat specialist for 25 years, has an office at Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center at Monongahela Valley Hospital.

He and his wife in 2012 were bestowed the Gibbons Award for Dimensions in Community Service. The award honors the late Eugene Gibbons, a member of the Mon-Vale Health Resources Board, and is given to those dedicated to health, civic and social needs of residents.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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