A Winnipeg doctor is en route to Nepal this week, volunteering his time and skill to the Red Cross following the massive earthquake that struck Nepal Saturday.

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This article was published 29/4/2015 (2618 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg doctor is en route to Nepal this week, volunteering his time and skill to the Red Cross following the massive earthquake that struck Nepal Saturday.

An anesthetist at Health Sciences Centre, Dr. Douglas Maguire went to school in St. Vital and graduated from the University of Manitoba. He's part of a 23-person team the Red Cross is sending to deliver medical care to those displaced by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu.

His team will be specifically looking after children, newborn babies and expectant mothers.

"That will be interesting, seeing lots of babies brought into the world amidst chaos, but being able to provide them warmth and shelter. That's a scarce commodity," Maguire said.

Calling from the Ottawa airport, Maguire said they're not quite sure what to expect when they arrive.

"This is not all laid out. There is no plan definitively laid out. It's a team that is a day ahead of us that will further consolidate the plans," Maguire said.

"The first step is to choose or be assigned a site, whether that's right in the Kathmandu valley, or whether there is a need identified outside the Kathmandu valley."

From there, the team will assemble 43 tonnes of equipment that makes up the mobile hospital. It includes an operating facility, pharmacy and tents that can accommodate up to 50 patients. They estimate they will start to provide care by the end of the week, although they're expecting delays getting into Kathmandu.

Purushottam Singh, president of the Nepali Cultural Society of Manitoba, said the scramble to make sure loved ones were OK was the worst part.

"You try and call the land lines, no one is receiving. You call the mobiles, and mobile is not responding," Singh said. He said his wife was especially worried because of her father's mobility issues.

"My father-in-law, he had a stroke three years ago, and he doesn't have any mobility. He cannot just walk," Singh said. "My wife was so worried. She wanted to phone and call, but she couldn't do anything."

Maguire spent four months in Kathmandu in 2000 as a visiting anesthetist, and said that experience was key in his desire to work there now.

"When this call came to do something that I love doing in a country that I love, it was pretty hard to say no," Maguire said.

Over the month he is gone, his colleagues will be picking up the slack at work. Maguire said they, and his family, are supportive of this trip.

He has been training for disaster relief with the Red Cross for two years. Singh said pretty much everything in Kathmandu is in ruins and the problems continued well after the initial quake.

"When I talked to my sister the next morning -- she called me -- and when I was talking, they were screaming because the aftershocks were coming at the same time," Singh said.

Maguire said although the team doesn't know what to expect at first, they want to make a difference however they can.

"If we accomplish nothing, we still demonstrate to these people that the world cares," Maguire said. "But I think we'll make a difference to labouring mothers."

kathleen.saylors@freepress.mb.ca