FOX 8 Defenders: New Orleans medical mission faces setback

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Inside a large warehouse in Jefferson Parish, you'll find all sorts of medical equipment and supplies. From a dental chair to dozens of walkers, it's all donated.

The non-profit, New Orleans Medical Mission Services or 'NOMMS' then uses all of this to provide international health relief.

"We'll probably do between 20 and 25 [total knee replacements]," said NOMMS Medical Director, Dr. Tom Kennedy. "We'll probably do between 25 and 30 gynecology surgeries, and like I said, about 100 people in the dental clinic."

Kennedy says their upcoming trip to Nicaragua will be the group's 28th mission.

"We may have to cancel a mission next year if we don't get some kind of response," said Kennedy.

Kennedy says future missions may be in jeopardy because of thousands of dollars in added fees to their American Airlines tickets that was out of their control.

Originally, the plan was to travel to Ecuador in September, not Nicaragua.

"Two weeks after I booked the fares, I got a call from our liaison to Ecuador, who told us that the mission was gonna' have to be canceled because of some new legislation in Ecuador which affected the malpractice situation and the doctors were very uncomfortable about doing surgery right now," explained Kennedy.

He says those law changes forced the group to cancel their trip to Ecuador and head to Nicaragua instead, but re-booking the flights came with a high cost for the group of 19.

"The $300 rebooking fee was another $5,700," said Kennedy.

He believes because they weren't allowed to book the flights as a group, they weren't allowed any leeway with rebooking costs.

"[American Airlines] let me talk to a supervisor who was even less helpful, and he tells me it may take 60 days. I tried to explain to him that we were a not-for-profit," said Kennedy.

An American Airlines spokesman tells FOX 8 that booking a group fare would not have lessened the cost to rebook the flight. Instead, spokesman Matt Miller said "passengers should consider purchasing a fully refundable ticket or trip insurance provided by an outside source."

Miller said no exceptions can be made.

Now, these New Orleans area doctors and medical professionals, who've changed thousands of lives, may have to cancel their next mission unless they can find a way to make up for the nearly $6,000 in extra airline fees.

When explaining why local doctors continue making these medical missions, Kennedy became teary eyed and said, "the look on people's faces when you've helped them. That's enough."

To help the New Orleans Medical Mission Services you can donate supplies or equipment or make a monetary donation at

Also, if you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women or fill out our online complaint form.

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