Amanda Whisnant, CPNP, (MSN, ‘05), is the medical director for International Servants, a non-profit mission that provides services to those in need in Belize. Amanda’s husband, Paul Whisnant, is founder and CEO of International Servants. Each year, Amanda leads medical teams comprised of 25 to 30 medical volunteers from the United States to Belize, ranging from nurses and physician assistants to nurse practitioners and physicians. These teams treat thousands of patients in urban areas and remote jungle villages.
“My two years at the College of Nursing were two of the best years of my life," Amanda said. "I always look back with fond memories, especially when I think of the wonderful faculty, such as Dr. Gigi Smith. Their tireless dedication to training and pouring their lives into their students have helped mold my character and make me the person I am today."
Amanda feels the time she spent at CON helped inspire her to help others less fortunate by providing health care for children in an underdeveloped country.
"I love leading our Belize Medical Mission Teams as we travel deep into the jungles of Belize and provide free health care for the people there," she said. "Nothing is more rewarding than caring for a needy child who would otherwise receive no medical care. I hope other students and alumni who read this article will be inspired to do the same, to give back, to give freely of their services when they can, to make a difference in this world…one precious life at a time.”
Saving a Child’s Life
by Amanda Whisnant, CPNP | MSN Class of ‘05
Each year we treat thousands of poor, needy patients in our jungle medical clinics. Most of our patients live in leaf and stick huts, with mud floors, in grinding poverty with very little food or clothing. As Belize medical director, I lead teams of doctors who volunteer from the US on weeklong trips into the jungle. It’s rewarding to save so many lives, but there are often children and adults that we can’t help, and that breaks my heart.
One such patient was Xiomara. Xiomara lives in a leaf and stick hut, with a mud floor, with no electricity or running water. Her family is desperately poor. In June 2008, I discovered that Xiomara had a serious heart murmur and that she would die if she didn’t get heart surgery. But there aren't any heart surgeons in Belize, nor a competent medical facility to perform such a difficult life-saving procedure. Xiomara’s case seemed hopeless, she was going to die, and there wasn’t anything we could do to help her in our jungle medical clinic.
So, for six months, I called hospitals in the U.S. until I located a hospital in Tampa, FL, which ended up flying Xiomara to Tampa and performing the surgery for free, saving this precious child’s life.