Health Talents International

Guatemala Surgical Clinic Trip Report (9909)
September 11-18, 1999
submitted by Marie Agee

Participants: Drs. Brian Camazine, Scott Camazine, T.C. Kreuger, Jr., Ken Mitchell, and Lee Hodges. CRNAs Eddie Milam and Jan Pratt. Nurses: Michael Bass, Paula Betz, Charlene Bryant, Connie Campbell, Jimmy Hanley, Pam Murray, Martha Oyston, Robert Reed, Bonnie Spink, Mona Sutherland, Michele Whitehead, Marilyn Worsham, & Richard Yates. Paramedics: Jerry Ervin and Rick Owens. Chaplain: Perry Cotham. Non-Medical: Alfred Anderson, John Goodfred, Mindy Skiver, Dianne Martin (translator), Mindy Yates, and Marie Agee.

Assisted by: Dr. Sergio and Veronica Castillo and Marco Diaz. Also assisted by health promoters Maruca, Cata, Dina, Diego of Xejuyup and Diego of Maxanija, and Emilindo, the minister from La Florida.

Surgical Clinic Statistics:

Vaginal Hysterectomies 20
Hernia Repair & Cyst Removal 45
Total 65

Review of Activities:

The team arrived about on Saturday evening, September 11. The TSI office
again arranged for us to bypass customs and go out the back door of the
airport. Only two of our bags didn't make it, but surprisingly enough,
Continental insisted that they would bring the bags to us, wherever we were.
They almost did that. They left them at a Cargo Express office in
Mazatenango, about 45 minutes away-but before we had always been responsible
for going back to the airport to retrieve them!

As usual, we spent the first night at the seminary, arising to meet the bus
at 5:00. Since it was Sunday morning, travel was very easy and we arrived at
the clinic at 8:00.


After we unloaded the bus, we had an orientation meeting in the supply room
to orient everyone to where they could find critical items. Connie Campbell,
our volunteer head nurse, had designed two schedules. One had 8-hour shifts
and the other 12-hour shifts. She was prepared for whatever would transpire.
She distributed copies of the schedule to the other nurses and did some
orientation with them to prepare them for the workload. The surgeons
examined waiting patients, then began operating. By the end of that first
day, they had operated on 12 patients.

The electricity was a problem only for the first two days. On the second day
it was off more than it was on, but after that, we didn't have a bit of
trouble. The new water filter worked well.

Surgical Patients:

For the most part, the patients required only simple procedures. There were
lots of hernias and prolapsed uteri. Some were large, and in one case Dr.
Brian Camazine had to do a bowel resection (our FIRST in Chocola) when he
discovered that a woman's hernia was entwined with the bowel. Since that is
a much more serious procedure than any we had ever done at our facility, we
had some concern and anxiety about her recovery. I'm sure there were many
prayers that went up on her behalf, and thankfully she did just fine.

A few patients had cysts of varying kinds. One young man had one on his
jawbone, and an older man had one above one of his eyes. A sixteen-year-old
deaf girl had to have a breast mass removed. Her mother and aunt had also
been operated on, and we learned later that they, too, were deaf. Dr.
Camazine and Dr. Kreuger brought home the cyst tissue samples for pathologic
examination. Dr. Camazine also removed a finger from a young man who had two
fingers fused together.

The grossest surgery award had to go to Dr. Kreuger for removing a sac,
called a filaria, from just above the tailbone of a woman. It was filled
with parasitic worms and functioned as an incubator for these worms to grow
and enter the body. The sac was as large as a man's fist and had been
growing for probably 25 years.

All the procedures seemed to go smoothly. After the first two days, we ran
out of surgical packs, but since our shipment had arrived in February, we
were well stocked with what we needed. We just had to gather individual
items. In the end everyone said they had exactly what they needed. God does

Marco Diaz, Emilindo-the Quiche evangelist, and Jerry Ervin often went
outside during the day and preached to the waiting crowd. The people seemed
to appreciate it and listened attentively. Both Marco and Emilindo, Bible in
hand, also talked one on one with different people and ministered from bed to
bed. Emilindo worked daily with Jerry Ervin and Rick Owens, the paramedics
who did the pre-op work. Since most of our patients spoke Quiche, Emilindo's
translating help was invaluable.

Dr. Lee Hughes, the anesthesiologist, had a birthday during the week.
Veronica made him a birthday cake and we all sang to him. When we finished,
the ever-present children watching from the door spontaneously began singing
"Happy Birthday" to him in Spanish. Lee was quite touched and had someone
take a picture of him with the children.

We cut the cake and shared it among ourselves and with the children. I then
went outside and found three teenaged boys watching the festivities through
the window. They asked if they, too, could have some cake. In a playful
moment, I told them that they could if they would sing for us as the children
had. Quite embarrassed, they hemmed and hawed until Marco went to help them.
Since the next day was Guatemalan Independence Day, I suggested that they
sing the Guatemalan national anthem. They did, and it was so cute! One of
the boys even (seemingly unconsciously) did all the arm motions that go with
it. We rewarded them with cake, and they seem pleased to be included. (You
want guys like that on your side!) They came back for the pinata a couple of
days later and seem happy that I remembered their names.

The only tragic thing that happened occurred early on Wednesday. About 2:30
a pickup drove in with a mother and father and their desperately ill
daughter. She was near death. Her mother said she had become ill 25 days
ago. Dr. Sergio Castillo said she appeared to have had salmonella, and at
this point was septic. There was nothing anyone could do, and she died
within an hour. Dr. Ken Mitchell was there as well, along with Perry Cotham,
the team chaplain, Connie Campbell, one of the nurses, and Marco. They
prayed with the family, then Connie and Ken took turns comforting the mother
while she sobbed almost inconsolably. The family was very poor so the staff
emptied their pockets to give them money for a proper burial. The father
then wrapped her in a sheet and blanket, put her into the back of the pickup,
climbed up into it and sat beside her to keep her from rolling around on the
way home. It was such a sad sight to see as they drove off into the darkness.

Two days later when time came for the team to leave, only 4 patients remained
in the hospital. All the others had been discharged and had gone home.

We left for Antigua and Guatemala City on Friday morning feeling grateful for
all the Lord had provided throughout the week. The patients were healing
nicely, we had had minimal problems with the electricity and water, and our
supplies had held out. It was another satisfying week of serving the Lord
through medical evangelism.