Voluntary Work


When I chose to become a doctor I had no way of knowing, however much I suspected it, the actual satisfaction that lies in the ability to heal. Today I can safely say that surgery, and especially my specialty that allows me to help children, is very gratifying and rewarding on a personal level.

It is this satisfaction that I seek as I actively participate in FOCOS*, the non-profit organization that provides treatment to children with spinal problems in Western Africa.

My first time in Ghana, West Africa, was in 2008, three years after my graduation from the Hospital of Special Surgery; I was invited by my mentor, Dr. Broachie, the co-founder of FOCOS.  There, I spent two of the most important weeks of my medical career doing what every doctor dreams of doing: healing children with severe scoliosis and kyphosis. We worked with a team of 40 volunteers dealing with these extremely severe spinal issues and were rewarded with big bright smiles. Working with the best spinal surgeons in the world (my teacher Dr. Broachie plus five other doctors), I was initiated into complex spine surgery.

I have been returning to Ghana once or twice a year, ever since, and am now considered a “veteran” of the organization, with over eight trips under my belt.

Our own hospital in Ghana was inaugurated in 2012; its capacity is 50 beds and it has two state-of-the-art operating theaters, an out-patient clinic, an X-ray and a physical therapy center. The children we operate on in Ghana are the world’s hardest cases. Their issues have helped us becomebetter and more adept surgeons in order to provide them with the best solution, while we share our unique experience with other doctors, publishing at international conferences and specialized publications. In Ghana FOCOS is a leader in spinal osteotomy (PVCR), in the treatment of severe scoliosis (over 110 degrees) and premature juvenile scoliosis.

I am always rewarded by the children’s smiles and their parents’ gratitude for the time I spend away from my family. Repeatedly, they are a reminder of why I wanted to become a doctor. My dream is to start a similar organization in Greece.


*FOCOS - Foundation for Orthopedics and Complex Spine, www.orthofocos.org. Through our website you can meet children with severe spinal issues and fund their surgery.

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© Dr. Elias C. Papadopoulos | All rights reserved