HEALTH TALENTS INTERNATIONAL
Guatemala Gen/Gyn Surgery
April 1-8, 2006

Surgery Team Trip Report

Participants: Drs. Ghazaleah Afshar, Grady Bruce, Benny Cleveland, David Craig, Ana-Maria Gray, Al Jones, LD Herzog, Fred Mecklenburg, Michael Ross; RNs; Andrea Dunn, Cheryl Ewigman, Grace Jensen, Sheri Kretzchmar, Cathy Love, Angie Miller, Liz Ross, Jeremy Taylor, Ashley Towler; Surgery Tech; Karen Althage, Jason Vega; Trip Chaplain; Michael Lincoln, Sterilization; Adam Cotter, Steve Cotter, Steve McVey, Ancillary Personnel; Caitlin Dunn, Lauren Herzog, JoLee Thayer and Rick Harper.

Our team consisted of twenty-eight from Alabama, Arkansas, DC, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming and we all arrived safely, though not all on time. Jason Vega as well as luggage for JoLee Thayer and Ashley Towler showed up one to two days later. Ashley and JoLee are grateful for the variety of scrubs available in the “bodega limpieza,” their personal clothing store!

Arriving in Montellano in the late afternoon continues to be a welcome change to our schedule by all trip veterans. We unpacked, toured, explored and got all in readiness for the next day in time for supper and a devotional. Michael Lincoln, our trip chaplain, introduced himself by saying, my name is Michael and I Love Jesus! Michael spent the week affirming that statement and leading us on a journey of discovery in our personal relationship with Jesus.

Sunday morning was relaxing since most of the prep had been done the night before and we simply visited until time for worship with the Montellano church family at 10:00. Upon arrival, we learned that two baptisms had already taken place that morning and two more were scheduled to take place later that morning. The Montellano, Columba and San Andres Villa Seca congregations were celebrating these events by having a joint service so the building was packed. Many of us joined them in celebration by walking to the Cutzan River for the baptisms of Juan and Manuela, husband and wife, after worship service.

The team hit the ground running after lunch and worked late that first night, as is typical, and completed four GYN and eight general surgeries that day. The surgical productivity on Sunday provided a hint of what to expect in coming days.

On Monday, Michael Lincoln joined Dr. Sierra for the mobile clinic in Las Margaritas as they treated 73 patients. Meanwhile, back at Clinica Ezell, the GYN and general teams had worked out a system using all three OR’s. GYN used two during the morning, while general used one and they reversed in the afternoon. The end result was twenty-one surgeries on Monday.

This trip was one in which the evening pre-op and consultations found us without our typical 20% rejection rate and by Monday night, we had all of the GYN patients we would be able to treat. Sadly, we had to send those arriving on Tuesday back to their home and reschedule them for September. Dr. Lisa and Rosario handled this unenviable task!

Tuesday proved to be eventful in more ways than one as we once again completed twenty-one surgeries. However, one patient from Monday, Irma Villeta, took a turn for the worse and had to be taken to the National Hospital in Mazatenango to receive two units of blood. We knew going in that Irma was diabetic, but it turns out that she had similar responses following her past surgeries. Wish we had known that! Thanks to many prayers and excellent care, Irma is fine.

We slowed down a bit on Wednesday and only did surgery on twenty patients and by 5:30, all surgery was complete. Of course, complete doesn’t mean peaceful and our recovery room nursing team performed marvelously even though they were short-staffed. LD and Lauren Herzog went to La Ceiba with Dr. Sierra on Wednesday and visited the local Mayan temple. Lauren received a bit more than she expected as she observed the offerings, egg-rubbing ceremony and chicken sacrifice.

Thursday is a transition day for many as GYN surgeries cease. Drs. Gray and Mecklinburg continued seeing surgical patients from previous months for post-op care. The general surgery team performed fourteen more surgeries. Dr. Afshar went to San Basilio with Dr. Sierra for her visit experience with a mobile clinic and Rick Harper took Andrea Dunn to San Basilio to meet her new ABC child, Juan. Andrea only decided to sponsor a child while in Guatemala so we were able to deliver the news to the family first. A special moment for all involved!

Total for the week: Twenty-three GYN cases with many requiring dual procedures. Dr. Grady Bruce, urologist and Health Talents board member, worked frequently with the GYN team in delivering the multiple procedure care. Sixty general cases, of which four were laproscopic gall bladder surgeries, and one little boy had a bladder stone removed that was the size of large pecan.

Thursday evening is the traditional time for everyone on the team to share their special memories from the week and few dry eyes could be found by the end of the night. Michael Lincoln lead the team in a special prayer as the US team gathered around the HTI staff present and prayed over them, Guatemala style. A blessed week, for a blessed people!