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International Service Hero Dr. Michael Bourque

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Uploaded on Mar 10, 2014

Dr. Bourque is a leading force behind the Blue Team -- one of two teams that make up the international medical missions group at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, whose volunteers have supported life-changing and life-saving medical efforts in numerous countries without sufficient medical care resources.

Dr. Bourque, an obstetrician, has participated in medical missions in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. On his first medical mission in 2006, he lost a patient after saving her life and that of her baby just one day earlier. "I promised her death would mean something, so I began the journey that has continued up to the present day," Bourque said. For eight years, Bourque has led the Blue Team, which has served more than 3,000 mostly surgical patients in the
Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Most recently, Bourque has worked to create a sustainable medical presence in the remote town of Dame Marie in western Haiti. Bourque's team makes week-long visits to the town several times a year to perform surgeries in the local hospital — the only surgeries that operating room sees all year. Now the organization is forming alliances with community and Haitian medical authorities and planning to create a more permanent presence in the coastal town of 40,000.

While women in the United States can deliver babies in a hospital with experienced doctors or midwives and "a small platoon of supporting personnel," women in places like Dame Marie, face the possibility that either they or their child may suffer permanent physical damage or death as a result of giving birth, Bourque wrote in a 2012 article for the Catholic Transcript.

For his efforts to improve medical conditions in Dame Marie, Bourque was designated as a Daily Point of Light by a national foundation that recognizes outstanding feats of public service by private citizens. "It has actually become my life's work," he said in a recent interview. "It didn't start out that way."

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