Necessity really is the Mother of Invention: Just ask biomed Chris Murphy, who was charged with setting up an operating room during a trip to Romania as a volunteer for Operation Smile. Murphy, who gave of his time and talent to the mission, came away with much more than a good story to tell friends and family. He now has a new appreciation and zest for life.

 “Something had to have happened. It had to have been a big thing for someone to change their life 180 degrees!”

Before Sept. 4, Chris Murphy, an employee of NovaMed Corp. (Trumbell, Conn.), routinely reported for work as director of biomedical engineering at Joseph’s Medical Center, Yonkers, N.Y. He was, as he described himself, the stereotypical, driven New Yorker on the go — “fast, fast, fast” — looking for fulfillment in material things and gauging opportunities by the size of the dollar signs they promised.

By Sept. 18, however — a mere two weeks later — this 27-year-old considered himself a changed man.

And he credits two weeks at a pediatric hospital in Romania as a volunteer for Operational Smile for imbuing his life with such significance that Murphy says even his father told him point blank: “ ‘You are definitely a different person.’ ”

Murphy is quick to tell anyone who asks that his signing on to the Romanian mission wasn’t the result of some “do-gooder” urge on his part. Rather, it happened as casually as his coming across an e-mail in early August from Operation Smile requesting a biomed for a mission leaving Sept. 4. The mission was in danger of being canceled because no biomed was on board.

“In the back of my mind, I’ve thought about doing something like this and here it was, pretty much presented to me, and I jumped on it,” Murphy relates. “It was easy [to follow through]. All you have to do, in this day and age, is drop an e-mail and your door is open to the world. And that’s exactly what I did. I dropped the mission coordinator for Operation Smile an e-mail telling her I was interested, and the ball got rolling quickly.”

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