FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno doctor is heading to Armenia with several others medical professionals to help people in need of health services.
The 37 doctors and medical professionals will be providing routine and emergency level care to rural areas of the country.
For Dr. John Garry, it's a chance to serve and return to Armenia nearly 30 years after a devastating earthquake and to revisit his families roots.
Armenia, then part of the Soviet Union, was rocked by a devastating earthquake in 1988. Emergency medical personnel from around the world rushed in to help, including Garry of Fresno.
"In 1988, during the Armenian earthquake, I was lucky enough to be among the first group of rescue people allowed into Armenia by the Soviet Union," he said.
Dr. Garry volunteered not only because he wanted to help, but because he felt an obligation to his ancestors. His grandparents came from Armenia.
"You have to remember from whence you came," he said.
Dr. Garry is a surgeon, and in the aftermath of the quake, he performed emergency procedures on those who sustained trauma from the quake and illness in its aftermath. This trip the treatments will be different.
"Just about everything but mainly there's a lot of diabetes there's a lot of hypertension, people smoke a lot in this part of the world, drink a lot, and so there's a lot of related diseases. Almost anything is there."
Dr. Garry notes the people in rural Armenia do not have access to regular medical care, and these annual trips by doctors from the Armenian Medical Mission are the only times they see a doctor.
"There is a big shortage of medical personnel and facilities and so whatever we can do to give back to an underserved area is important and for me personally drives me to want to help my own heritage to help improve their lot," he said.
Among the patients he expects to see are Syrian refugees of Armenian heritage who fled from Isis in Syria. The medical mission will be for 10 days. The team leaves from LA Wednesday.