Clinic in India to be named after Rochester OBGYN
A clinic in India that serves women and girls who are victims of sex trafficking will be named after a beloved Rochester OBGYN. Dr. David Gandell delivered more than 5,000 babies locally before he died in 2021, but it’s the work he did overseas that will help women for generations to come.
Dr. David Gandell was a husband and father of five. He used that life experience when interacting with thousands of women and delivering thousands of babies as an OBGYN at RGOA in Rochester. “So many patients reached out to me and sent me cards and letters, just saying how David had treated them with such care and respect,” says Dahn Gandell, Dr. Gandell’s wife.
That care extended far beyond his Rochester office. Dahn Gandell is a priest who does humanitarian work across the globe. Several years ago, she was drawn to India. “I found out that the average age of a trafficked child in India was between 8-12 years old,” she recalls through tears.
It was in India she met Giselle Meza, who was trafficked at the age of 14. While Meza had escaped and gone on to have a successful international modeling career, a trip to Kolkata, India changed her path. “I was on this wonderful trip for fashion and my eyes were on these girls and the mothers at the markets and I knew what was happening,” Meza recalls. So, she stayed to try and help. “When I saw these little girls that were being held captive and being used in the brothels, they were trapped, there was no way for them to get out and I felt when I looked into their eyes, it was me as a child,” she tells News10NBC.
Meza now works to get girls and women out of the brothels of Kolkata. “We will negotiate with humanitarian items like, okay we’ll bring you food, we’ll bring clean water, we’ll bring saris for the women, let us take this child,” she explains.
Meza’s non-profit organization, Puresa Humanitarian, has helped nearly 1,000 women and girls escape sex trafficking and start new lives. In many cases, the first time those survivors got any medical care, it was from Dr. David Gandell, who started coming along on trips to Kolkata with his wife.
“When Dr. Gandell came over, he examined the children, the women and he also came into the red light district with us where we have a center,” recalls Meza. “The women from the red light came and lined up to be able to see him and they were in tears because they’ve never had medical help; he must have examined at least 300 women and probably 100 children.”
He helped build trust among women and girls who had never seen kindness from a man and that in turn, saved lives. “His love and giving that care, brought us all even closer,” Meza says about the women who came.
The work fulfilled Dr. Gandell too. “He just became passionate about wanting to make it better for the girls, like what can I take back next time I go, what medical things did I need that I didn’t have and it just really gave him such a bigger view of what can be done,” Dahn recalls.
Puresa Humanitarian now plans to name the clinic in the red light district of Kolkata after Dr. David Gandell. A fitting tribute to a man who called Rochester home but helped so many women and girls across the globe.
If you would like to learn more about Puresa Humanitarian or donate in Dr. Gandell’s memory, click here.