News Release

A Day of Thanksgiving in American Samoa for Service of Humanitarian Doctors

Patients thank medical missionaries at the end of their missionary service

Thanksgiving Day was celebrated a little bit early in American Samoa this year with a ceremony marking the completion of 100 successful knee replacements at the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center Hospital in Faga’alu.

The 23 November program was created in order to thank Dr. John Edwards for his work in establishing a knee replacement practice at the hospital.

Dr. Edwards, along with his wife Rebecca, were called as medical missionaries to come to American Samoa in 2019 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


The hospital also offered thanks to Dr. Gregory Patch, a radiologist, and his wife, Janene Patch, a licensed practical nurse, along with Dr. Robert Keddington, an emergency room physican, and his wife Sue for their excellent service there as well.

The Edwards will be returning home to the USA at the end of this month.

See prior news story about this unique program here.

In his remarks, John Faumuina, LBJ Center Chief Executive Officer, shared his heartfelt gratitude to the Church and to Elder O. Vincent Haleck, Emeritus General Authority Seventy and former President of the Pacific Area of the Church, for his efforts to request specialist missionaries be called to American Samoa.

Over the last 10 years Elder Haleck has worked to bring doctors from the United States to address the particular needs of the American Samoan people.

“There are not enough words in Samoan nor in English to express our gratitude to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for bringing these blessings to our country,” said Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Taase, speaking on behalf of the Governor of American Samoa. Dr. Edwards also happens to be her personal knee physician.

Medical missionaries John and Becky Edwards, with a patient, at the celebration for performing over 100 knee replacement surgeries in Pago Pago, American Samoa over an 18 month period. November 2020.
Medical missionaries John and Becky Edwards, with a friend, at an event celebrating the 100 knee replacements done by Dr. Edwards in Pago Pago, American Samoa. November 2020. © 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“When I look out across this gathering today, I think of one word – and that is family,” said Dr. Edwards in his remarks. “Families play a critical role in the recovery of our patients. A warm greeting, sharing a story, a laugh, a cry, a hug or a smile from a loved one makes such a difference.”

He thanked all of the patients who had the courage and the faith to move forward with their knee surgery.

Reverend Elder Ioane Evagelia, from the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa in Utulei, spoke of his experience and how young he feels following surgery on his knee. He is able to jog and play golf once again.

The Reverend also spoke on behalf of all patients including those of different faiths or with no faith affiliation. “Our ability to face future medical challenges is advanced now due to the actions of those from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have made this coordinated effort.”

At the end of the ceremony, the missionaries were presented with traditional Samoan gifts by hospital representatives, on behalf of the Samoan people.

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