Consonant with its mission statement, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you”, Swan Urology supports a range of philanthropic work to promote global health and education.


I first visited Phnom Penh as a young intern on a medical mission trip in 2000. I was deeply saddened by the dire state of this war-torn country, the atrocities it had endured and the resulting poverty and plight of its people. As I walked through villages that still relied on community wells and drop toilets, peeked into “houses” no bigger than a bedroom where families of six to ten lived and watched malnourished children play barefoot in the muddy creeks next to scrawny cows and chickens, I thought of how wide the discrepancy between their lives and mine was. I could have been born one of them, living hand to mouth, excluded from the luxury of having all my basic needs met or pursuing a life beyond the village. I treated minor respiratory, gastrointestinal, infective and musculoskeletal ailments with basic medications, naively hoping I would make a difference. I knew full well that in reality, we could only effect change by improving their living conditions, providing access to healthy food, clean water, decent sanitation, and equipping them with training and resources to help them help themselves. I prayed fervently that God would intervene to help Cambodia and its people, and continue to do so even to this day.

16 years later, I returned to Cambodia, this time as a specialist surgeon along with a team of twenty other medical, nursing and allied health professionals and students led by Dr Andre Leong in Siam Reap. It still deeply saddens me to see how one political figure’s selfishness, greed and thirst for power resulted in the loss of millions of lives and stalled the progress of a country’s economy and development by many decades. It is painfully devastating to read biographies of those who survived the bloody regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and utterly impossible to comprehend how the perpetrators were motivated to perform such inhumane acts of tyranny and cruelty on their fellow human beings. More than 40 years later, 22.9 percent of children die before the age of 5 and only 13 percent of the population visit health facilities.

Villagers waiting for medical and dental care

Recognising the futility of the “hit and run” approach to medical mission work, Dr Leong and his team have been visiting 5 villages in Siam Reap 2-3 times a year, moving a step closer to meeting the primary health needs of the people. Acute problems are treated and cured, or at least symptomatically relieved. Chronic conditions are diagnosed, stabilised with medications or minor interventions and monitored, reducing suffering and morbidity. As I conducted medical consultations from make-shift tents and performed surgical procedures on dusty wooden platforms, my husband Dr Jason Loong ran a dental “chair” under a large tree and my kids showed the local children how to wash their hands before a meal, brush their teeth, and kept them engaged in fun activities whilst their parents received treatment.

Having worked hard in the fields for years severe arthritis is common amongst older villagers. In developed countries, they would get a knee or shoulder replacement, but steroid injections are the best we can provide for short-term relief

Bush dentistry with Dr Loong and his team

This elderly lady had a dermoid cyst the size of a fist overlying her lower thoracic spine. After we removed it, she was able to lie flat on her back for the first time in 30 years

Dr Paul Keong showing the local kids how to clean their teeth with their new toothbrushes

Cambodian children doing art and craft activities whilst their parents receive medical and dental care

Cambodia is only one of many examples of suffering and poverty around the globe, and my annual pilgrimage there is a reminder to me of who I am and what my calling is. It helps me combat the lure of wealth acquisition and materialism, challenges my sense of first world entitlement and suppresses any partiality to self-obsession and introspection. Philanthropy is often expressed by generous donations of money to good causes, but it extends to our own workplaces and communities with a willingness to put another person’s need above our own needs, and having compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves.

Dr Leong and Dr Loong after a long day’s work