Reflections on World Health Day

As I sit in Guatemala, nearing the end of our mission to San Lucas Toliman, I am taking a break from my daily blogs to reflect on the small, but significant impact Medical Missions Foundation has on World Health.   We can’t solve all the health issues in the developing world; that is for sure. However, we can take pride in the tremendous benefits we deliver to the individuals and communities that we visit year after year.   Among the galaxy of organizations providing medical services in the developing world, MedMissions has developed the rare ...

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Scouting a new location in Quetzaltenango

While the rest of the team stayed in San Lucas Toliman to provide another full day of surgery and clinical services, a four-person scouting team went on a road trip on Tuesday.   Led by Carmen Gramajo-Moser, we drove three hours to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second largest city, with a population 225,000. Located at 7,800 feet in the Guatemalan highlands, Quetzaltenango (also known as Xela) is an interesting colonial-era city surrounded by widely-scattered ethnic Mayan villages. For such a large city, Xela has a surprising shortage of medical services. &...

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Day 3 – Exciting… if you’re a medical professional

I have never seen a group so excited about poop. Then again, this is the same group that shares photos of gall stones. Not pleasant over the dinner table… and a bit twisted!   Yesterday’s big news was that Wilfredo pooped. As you will remember, Wilfredo is the two-year-old boy that the MedMissions surgical team reversed a previous ostomy procedure, “re-plumbing” his intestinal track so he could go the bathroom like anyone else.   Well, the big moment arrived the next morning. I was not there to see what apparently was a diaper parade through ...

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Day 2 – A Busy Day at the Hospital

Our first full day at Hospital Obras Sociales was a busy one, across all phases of the mission to San Lucas Toliman.   The highlight for the surgical team was a multi-faceted surgery performed on a two-year-old boy, reversing an ostomy performed a few days after birth due to intestinal inflamation. As Dr. John Alley described it, “We opened his belly, reversed his small bowel ostomy, repaired an abdominal wall hernia and removed his appendix.” Easy for him to say.   The net result: this young boy can now lead a normal life, discarding his ostomy ...

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Day 1 – Packing Party in Reverse

  24 hours into the mission and all is well.   The mission team and luggage arrived without incident in San Lucas Toliman late yesterday afternoon. It was a long day of travel -- a 6 AM departure from Kansas City, a tight connection in Houston, arrival in Guatemala City at noon and a three-hour bus trip to San Lucas.   We see our first patients at 7:30 Monday morning, so today was our opportunity to unpack and get organized. 30 suitcases packed three weeks ago with 1,500 pounds of medical equipment and supplies reappear in San Lucas ...

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Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go!

A team of 22 Medical Missions Foundation volunteers will depart April 2nd for a week-long mission to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. This will be our seventh annual mission to San Lucas, which is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan, about three hours west of Guatemala City.   Including missions to Antigua, MedMissions has organized and led 24 medical missions to Guatemala since 1998. We have performed nearly 2,000 surgeries and treated more than 12,000 clinical patients. This does not count other audiology and dental services, which have been part of many of ...

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Say Hello to Daniel

Today I met with Daniel Isaias Xep Tuiz, another of our friends here at the hospital. He is the hospital's Radiology Technician. Daniel has a sincere desire to help people, and that is absolutely evident as you see him work and offer his help to patients and to us.   Daniel was born here in San Lucas, and lives here with his parents and eight siblings. He has five brothers and three sisters, as well as a nephew. When he was born, he had a sickness for which his parents sought treatment. To do so, they sold many things to be able to pay for the treatment, ...

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San Lucas – Friday/Last Day in the OR

Today is our last day here at the hospital. It is always a hard day. We know, however, that it will not be long before we can come back and continue the work once again. We wrapped up the week with 64 patients seen, and 71 procedures performed. I believe I can freely speak for everyone here when I say that it has been such a privilege to be here and to do the work that has been done this week. This team of doctors, nurses, practitioners, students, and volunteers is top-notch. They have done great things here this week, and are proud to continue the work that Medical ...

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Meet Jonathon

Today I got a chance to interview another very interesting person in San Lucas Toliman. His name is Jonathan Gelez, and he is a translator who has been working with the Medical Missions Foundation team at the hospital with us all week. He has translated for the staff and patients here, as well as helping Cindy Rudolph with a health education skit she does with “Chicky” the sneezing chicken, as I mentioned in another post. He has done an excellent job with this, especially at the school today with the children. He did very well at the head of the classroom, helping to ...

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San Lucas Toliman – Thursday

With everything we are able to do, probably the most rewarding are days like today. We started the day with a little 5-year-old boy with phimosis, which has been a problem for him since birth. A few moments in the operating room and his problem was solved. The second pediatric case was a one-year-old little girl whose mother brought her in for a mass on her scalp. It was originally thought to be a cyst, but on careful surgical exploration we believe it to actually be an unclosed portion of her skull. She will follow up with Dr. Tun, who will watch her closely and we expect ...

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