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3,000 Surgeries in Six Days

Alum Alycia Eisenstein’s volunteer efforts throughout the Caribbean

There are busy weeks, and then there are Alycia Eisenstein-busy weeks. The difference? Oh, only about 143-surgeries’ worth.

If that seems like a ridiculous number of surgeries to perform in a week, you’re right. It is. Then again, she actually performed that many in only four days, and she didn’t get paid to perform any of them.

You see, since selling her practice in 2016, the 2000 Ross Vet alum has dedicated herself to her passion for relief and volunteer work. On a day-to-day basis, that means working at Heartland Animal Shelter just north of Chicago. On the more extreme end, it means traveling throughout the Caribbean working with various organizations on spay and neuter efforts.

“I’ve been to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Aruba, and I have a trip coming up to go down to St. Lucia,” Eisenstein said. “This is just something I really love doing. People ask me if this is what I dreamed I’d be doing when I grew up. I tell them it is. It’s why I went to Ross Vet because it’s in the Caribbean.”

While her veterinary roots may have started in the Caribbean, she admits she really didn’t know how to get back to them at first. So, she just did the logical thing when looking for direction … she did a Google search.

“I came across an organization in the Dominican Republic that focuses on spay and neutering dogs and cats,” Eisenstein said. “I sent them a message, and then messaged me back how many surgeries could I do. I had no idea.”

She soon found out. Her flight a couple months later landed on a Tuesday. By the time she left on Sunday she’d performed 90 surgeries. “It was nuts,” says Eisenstain.

Yet, a couple months later she was back again for more, and then it was off to Aruba. But the biggest effort came when a veterinary acquaintance, Osmar Rivera, caught wind of her efforts and asked if she would help in Puerto Rico.

The hurricane-ravaged island was in desperate need for volunteer veterinarians to spay and neuter animals, and Rivera was organizing an event to help. Actually, four events. Big ones.

“It was like nothing I’d ever seen,” Eisenstein said. “It was like a rock concert. People were lining up starting at 2 a.m., and we were passing out bracelets; 600 a day. By the time the first event was over, myself and 19 other veterinarians had performed around 3,000 surgeries in six days.

“The team effort is amazing. It’s a lot on us, but it’s also a lot on the techs. They’re constantly cleaning and autoclaving all the instruments in between surgeries. It’s a lot, but you see how happy the people are that we’re there and helping them. It’s all worth it.”