This recently concluded Guatemala mission was my first experience in a multi speciality mission trip. Plastic surgeon repairing cleft lips, general surgeons doing breast cancers and hernias, audiologists, registered nurses, physician assistant, operating technicians, anesthesiologists, five translators and the list goes on. There were five college seniors or recent graduates that wanted to experience medicine in the developing world.
We arrived in Guatemala City late in the evening of January 6, 2019 and checked into the Biltmore Hotel. In the morning we traveled by bus six hours to Nuevo Progreso.
Over 40 crates of medical equipment was unpacked as we prepared for the deluge of patients. The next six days were frenetic in seeing over 800 clinic patients and performing over 300 surgeries.
I had the great fortune of working with two local ophthalmologists; Jose and Erik that were tremendous human being while being in the top 5% of skilled ophthalmologists I’ve observed.
Frankly, I have never seen so much pseudoexfoliation, ever! Over 50% of patients had this, which confers glaucoma and weak supporting structures of the lens we implant. In three instances I had to stop and ask Jose or Erik to take over which they skillfully did! Very impressive as they are undoubtedly steeped in this disorder. The cataracts were white or deeply brown and had a consistency of granite!
At the end of six days new friendships were made that will last a lifetime. Many tears were shed as we decompressed from the stresses of our successes and shared our personal experiences. After 38 Eye camps around the world, the Guatemalan multi-specialty clinic at Hospital de la Familia stands out as a triumph of altruism and sacrifice by so many that want to make a difference for the needy and poor.
My heart felt gratitude to trip organizer and anesthesiologist Dr Scott Letourneau. Much love to the EUGENE Eye team: Maggie and Scott Carlson, Nancy Silva, Laurie Wesemann, Lana Hobbs, and my fabulous talented wife, Joy!