October 6-13, 2007
Guatemala Gen/Gyn Surgery Trip

Team Members: Surgeons: Brian Camazine, Mark Crane, Paul Humphrey, AnaMaria Gray, Carol Harrington, Fred Mecklenburg, Sheneika Walker; Anesthesia: Al Jones, Ronald Rumpf, James Walsh, Mark Gortmaker; Nurses: Beth Batcher, Barb Cornell, Grace Jensen, Amy Kinghom, Susan Small, Dawn Skinner, Bonnie Spink, Virginia Birss (missionary to Guatemala), Sheri Kretzschmar; Surgical Techs: Karen Althage, Don Holbert; EMT: Troy Valente; Chaplain: Donny Lee; Translator: Lilly Gutierrez, Melisa Keltner (Guatemalan missionary), Petra Wirrell (Guatemalan Missionary); Sterilization: Kemmel Dunham; Nurse’s Aids: Lisa Hawks, JoLee Thayer; Team Leaders: Rick Harper, and Julie Wheetley.

We were smaller in number this past week but still had a successful and productive week with the help of several first time participants. Three of our four anesthesia dream team and three of our nurses were HTI rookies. It is also important to note how some of our team members found out about our trips. Beth and Amy from California found us on the internet. They were searching on Google for medical mission trips and came across our website. Kemmel posted a request for volunteers on the Inter-Mission web site for Guatemalan missionaries. His call for help was responded to by three different ladies, one of which is an RN and the other two compassionate translators and nurse’s aids. We were blessed to have had all of these individuals join our team.

This week we had 68 precious patients and thanks to the donation from Mr. Richard Yates of Murfreesboro, TN we were able to have functioning laparoscopic equipment. We performed 9 laparoscopic procedures; in addition we had 20 gynecological procedures and 42 general procedures.

With the abundance of surgeons and anesthesiologists, we were able to run three operating rooms. This helped us to see many patients throughout the week but had the reverse effect of being more demanding on our recovery room nurses. We had four recovery room nurses there all week long and two nurses for part of the week. Of course, this did not count our two Guatemala RN’s and five nurse auxiliaries.

When we arrived in Guatemala we were two team members short. Andrea Dunn had a family emergency on Friday evening and was thus unable to come. The surgical resident Sheneika Walker had trouble with her passport in the states and had to come to Guatemala a day late on a different airline.

The rest of the time members arrived with luggage and no complications. One team member got sick on the bus so we made a little pit stop at some very pretty fruit stands. Everyone got back onto the bus and we made it safe and sound to Montellano. Once in Montellano the team got to work arranging and preparing the hospital for the following day. Dinner was served and we had a devotional and went to bed.

Sunday morning we made our way across the street to participate with the Montellano congregation for worship. Worship was slightly altered when Sonia Lux (wife of Dr. David Lux) fainted and the doctors and nurses in the area rushed to check on her. Baldimar continued with his sermon as Sonia was walked across the street and Dr. Ana Maria Gray preformed an ultrasound on Sonia. Her baby was positioned properly and we were able to see its heart beating. Sonia was fine after drinking some soda to get her blood sugar up. After church all the members of the Montellano congregation came to check on and pray over Sonia. It was wonderful seeing the love and concern they had for her.

After church and lunch the doctors were seeing patients and preparing to operate. Things went relatively smooth for the first day and as usual there were kinks that worked themselves out as the week went on and people grew more accustomed to working together. It was certainly beneficial to have a couple of very competent and experienced surgical nurses.

Twice throughout the week the brothers and sisters from the congregations in Montellano and Chicacao came to visit with and pray over the patients in the recovery room. It was a blessed time for all who were able to participate.

Unfortunately there were two GYN patients that we were unable to operate on. Due to time constraints and not wanting to have any unexpected complications near our departure, we rescheduled two ladies to return for their operations in January.

Several team members had the opportunity to go out on mobile medical clinics with Dr. Walter and Dr. David. These individuals all came back excited to have had the experience and impressed with the work that takes place each week. One in particular was the 4th year med student Zeina Saliba interested in family medicine and community health. She stated to me several times throughout the week how impressed she was with the variety of programs in the communities that promote good health and hygiene.

Thursday was a slower day for surgery and several of the GYN staff was able to go to Xejeyup with Dr. Walter and hold clinic. Dr. Ana-Marie Gray stayed behind for a special GYN clinic and saw 12 ladies and preformed pap-smears. The first ten patients had clean reports but sadly the last two women seen both tested positive for cervical cancer. This brought us great sadness and a renewed desire to continue growing our capabilities in Montellano to help ladies like these in the future. For now these two ladies will be sent to Guatemala City for treatment.

Thursday was also the day that most of our team went to visit the waterfall beyond Xejeyup. The day was rainy and very wet but the waterfall was impressive with more water falling than many had ever seen at this spot. During the afternoon on Thursday team members also had the opportunity to visit a privately owned museum of Mayan artifacts in Chicacao which all seemed to enjoy.

Friday morning the doctors did a last pass through the ward and completed any orders or releases still pending and the team took off around 8:00am for Antigua. Everyone passed an enjoyable but rainy day in Antigua before the final dinner together at Hotel Antigua.

At 3am Saturday morning the bus left Antigua after saying good bye to the Guatemalan missionaries and a couple team members remaining in Antigua for longer. We were all processed and searched and all on the plane on time. Once we arrived in Houston we said our goodbyes around the luggage carousel.

The trip was another blessed and enjoyable experience. God was able to shine his light through both the Guatemalan and North American participants and His name was glorified.

Written by: Julie Wheetley, Mission Trips and Events Coordinator