McLaren Surgeon Volunteers on a Medical Mission to Liberia, Performing 50 Surgeries


Suzanne Hanses, DO, a surgeon at McLaren Greater Lansing Breast Care Center, is a veteran when it comes to participating in medical mission trips. Hanses started her volunteerism through the Peace Corps in 1978, where she was stationed in Liberia, West Africa. Since then, Dr. Hanses goes on mission trips as often as she can.  

“I really loved my time volunteering through the Peace Corps, and it was a part of what made me want to become a surgeon and continue working overseas,” said Dr. Hanses. “Throughout my career, I’ve been to over 20 different countries volunteering.” 

Forty-three years later, Dr. Hanses, along with a group of other medical professionals and volunteers from various other states, arrived back in Liberia for a two-week medical mission trip on October 8 through 22, 2021, through the Bridges of Hope organization.

Bridges of Hope is a non-profit organization focused on providing quality health care, clean water, and education in Liberia and has often focused on school and church building in the Liberian communities. Through past connections, Hanses was contacted through the organization to participate on the group’s first medical mission trip.  

Dr. Hanses, along with Leandra Jelinek, DO, chief surgical resident at McLaren Greater Lansing, participated in the trip and provided surgical assistance and medical education.   

“We completed about 50 surgeries while we were there. These included hysterectomies, hernia repairs, and thyroidectomies,” said Dr. Hanses.

Dr. Hanses states that going on these mission trips help put into perspective things that are taken for granted. During the mission, they did not have running water, electricity was scarce, and they did not have the supplies and equipment they typically have in the United States for procedures.   

“The people in Liberia are so grateful and appreciative, it was a wonderful experience for me to be able to help. It was truly a life-changing experience,” said Dr. Hanses.

Dr. Hanses and Dr. Jelinek were able to bring supplies they needed that were donated by McLaren Greater Lansing.

“I appreciate all who helped gather supplies,” said Dr. Hanses. “Even though they did not go on the mission, their participation and help were just as important, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

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