August, 2007 General, ENT and Plastics Surgical Trip Report

Team Members: Surgeons: A.D. Smith, Scott Ballinger, Dwayne Fulks, Phillip Strawther; Anesthesiology: Brian Alexander, Jeff Bennie; Family Practice: Ed Davis, Andrew Prints; Nurses: Ruth Davis, Jan Harper, Bobbi Hess, Ronnie Johnson, Georgia McCaleb, Jill Voss; Student Nurses: Art Bettati, Jr, Michelle Berry, Michelle Young; Chaplain: Ken Graves; Translators: Cynthia Allen, Beth Barnes, Ryan Blucker, Olgita Brazzel, Mike Martinez, Kathleen Fuller, Jason Fuller, Hannah Orozco, Laura Smith, Stephen Wagner; Sterilization: Alfred Anderson, Susan Jordan; Compassionate Support Help: Molly Alexander, Tyler Allen, Debbie Ask, Julie Gregg, Audrey Haywood, Mike Johnson, Brandon Knapp, Dee Knapp, Karen Morrison, Adam Prints, Landon Prints, Lisa Prints, Susan Winfree. Artist: Sharron Smith. Team Leaders: Rick Harper, Julie Wheetley


We had a large and multi-talented group this past week. The group was big enough that we were able to send out between six and eleven people each day to mobile medical clinics and ABC deliveries. The teenage boys offered their muscles and we put them to work lifting boxes of soap and hauling bags of rice, beans, and tortilla mix. They worked hard helping to deliver the “viveres” to the ABC families.

We got into Guatemala City and had a small delay because of some lost luggage. Before long we were on our way with Pollo Campero fried chicken. Church in Montellano was special on Sunday morning because members of the Guatemalan Board of Directors joined us and Brother Nelly Costillo was the guest preacher. After church the patients were evaluated and surgery commenced.

We were able to operate on fifteen plastics/ENT patients throughout the week and twenty-five general patients. Dr. Philip Strawther was only able to be with us through Tuesday so Dr.’s Dwayne Fulks and Scott Ballinger completed all of the plastic and ENT surgeries for the week. The first day of plastics we operated on two children with cleft palates. Edgar, a twelve year old boy was able to steal away the heart of many of the nurses and nurses aids with his new smile. The transformation he made was almost unbelievable. Ten year old Margarita was the other child that was operated on. She gave us all a few worrisome hours because she refused to eat after the surgery. Rick decided to try giving her some ice cream and with that yummy treat she gave in and began eating. As Margarita was about to leave we were still waiting for a smile from her sweet face and just before she left we did get just a hint of a smile.

Dr. A.D. Smith got a little surprise on Monday when HTI employee Alejandra Bran Campos was referred to him by Dr. David Lux after being thought to have appendicitis. Dr. A.D. Smith evaluated Alejandra and told her that he would indeed need to take out her appendix! Only a short hour or so later Alejandra was on the operating table and within the next couple of days she was released from the hospital feeling much better. God certainly works in wonderful and mysterious ways, Alejandra may have been in serious trouble if Dr. Smith had not been there to evaluate her and treat her immediately.

One of the most difficult cases we saw this past week was that of a child with a facial cleft. This is a condition more severe than the typical cleft palate. The child had already had a couple of operations but was still in need of serious reconstructive surgery. Dr. Strawther took some photos of the baby and said that he would speak with a college of his about what to do and if we can help. The family has been referred to the February clinic and we are working to have specialist come down and assist. Please keep this child, Cristofer Gregorio, and his family in your prayers because he is healthy and happy due to the good care his mother has provided but she carries a great burden.

While the surgeons were operating our family doctors were heading out with Dr. Walter Sierra and Dr. David Lux. Dr. Andrew Prints and Dr. Ed Davis went out with our Guatemalan staff members and a translator each. They were able to see patients and help many people. Additionally there were about twenty team members that joined the doctors throughout the week on the mobile clinics.

This year the ABC deliveries coincided with the team from the states which gave us the opportunity to visit our brothers and sisters in the costal area. Although it was our group helping to bring them food and toiletries they always managed to serve us whether through song or a cold beverage. The families showed us their gratitude for the gifts we were delivering and demonstrated their love for us through corn on the cob and hugs and kisses.


Once again we were grateful to have Alfred Anderson working the sterilization room. This trip he was able to bring down some more surgical instruments and sterile surgical tape. Alfred and a team of helpers organized and coded all of our instruments. Their work will help us to keep better track of our instruments and keep them organized. We owe them a BIG thank you!

One special even that took place this week happened in the waiting room of the dental clinic. Ms. Sharron Smith, artist extraordinaire, painted a mural of Noah’s Ark! She spent her week mixing paint and detailing elephants, pigs, quetzal birds, lions, kangaroos and roosters. She had several helpers and lots of admirers as the mural took on more and more life throughout the week. We are immensely grateful to Sharron for blessing us and every person who comes through the dental clinic with her talents. This is just one more example showing how God uses the people who want to serve Him.


On Thursday we had to say an early goodbye to Dr. Scott Ballinger and Dr. Jeff Bennie and then Friday morning the team made it to Antigua. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Hotel Antigua and turned in for the night. We got up and made it to the airport just as the minivan gave out on us. Thankfully there is a parking lot near the departures area at the airport so we pushed the van into a spot and went on our way.

Over all there were forty operations, many mobile medical patients and many families to receive food and goods. The week was blessed and a success. We praise God for watching over us and keeping us safe and healthy once again.

Prepared by Julie Wheetley