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Antigua 2018 – Urine for a Treat

Team Urology is one of our veteran groups of doctors on the Antigua mission – this is Dr. Scott’s ninth trip, Dr. Marc’s eighth and Dr. Tom’s fifth. But even for veterans, some cases are pretty rare for them to handle in Guatemala. Today all three physicians worked together, along with medical student David, to do a nephrectomy. This is a common procedure for each urologist to do in the U.S., but it hasn’t been done on our group’s mission to Antigua since 2011.


In the U.S., a nephrectomy isn’t very invasive. The whole surgery can be completed laparoscopically, which only requires a small incision. But in Antigua, our doctors don’t have all the same tools as they have back in the U.S., making the surgery a bit more complicated. However, in this particular case, the patient’s kidney was completely filled with staghorn stones (stones that branch out like the horns on a stag) that were a result of multiple infections the patient had before coming to Las Obras. The doctors agreed proceeding with the surgery was best idea for this patient’s situation.


“We took no chances; we took our time, and we worked deliberately,” said Dr. Tom. The surgery went smoothly and took about two hours to complete. The recovery time for the patient will be about six weeks.


Team Urology alone was able to consult with about 65 patients in the clinic yesterday, and the rest of their week will be spent in the operating room. Across all specialties, our group has a total of 75 surgeries scheduled for the week and about 30 patients who are still waiting to get scheduled if there is enough time.


Photos by Erin Milsten and Matthew Bene

Dr. Chaffee (l) guides Rachel as she intubates a patient for a nephrectomy.

Dr. Montgomery enjoys Crystal’s recollection of song lyrics from previous years.

The Urology Group: (l to r) Drs. Herrick, Montgomery and Milsten.