Valerie Smith-Orr, Order of Australia Medal Award

One of the Nursing specialists who is a referrer with the Swinfen Trust’s Telemedicine system is Nurse Valerie Smith-Orr, working in the Philippines.

Valerie has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the general division in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List ‘For service to the international community through nursing’.

Val Smith-Orr was born and raised in Yorkshire, UK. She completed her post graduate training at the famous McIndoe Unit at Queen Victoria Hospital where she received her badge in Plastic Surgery.

In 1990, Val emigrated to Australia and became a citizen in 2000. She attended the University of Sydney in 2003 and graduated with a Certificate in Health Science. In 2005, she started her Masters Research at the University of Queensland (UQ). However, shortly after, her life plans changed when she took a trip to the Philippines.

In 2006, Val arrived in the Philippines for a six-month stint, collecting data for her research at UQ.  Her topic of study was “feeding children with cleft palate in a developing world” and involved interviewing mothers to see what methods they used to feed their children.

When she initially began her research, she had over 200 families participate. One child was a tiny baby girl weighing 2.7 kg (5.9 lbs), the size of a newborn, except she was several months old.  The girl was very malnourished and quite blue in colour.  Val thought the girl would die in her arms.

The child’s family agreed to allow Val to care for her for one month. After two weeks of care, one night, the baby girl stopped breathing, and Val managed to keep her alive through external airway resuscitation (E.A.R).  The baby survived and has been in Val’s care ever since.

Val started Triple B Care Projects after she began helping patients in need in her small kitchen.