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Team Hope Arrives in Guatemala for our 2017 Medical Mission Trip

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 By Krista Van Tassel, Director, Corporate Communications, AMN Healthcare

Team Arrives to Guatemala

AMN Healthcare arrived in Guatemala this past weekend, thanks to the team at International Esperanza Project. More than 100 volunteers, representing over 20 states and ten countries, gathered in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to make their way to Guatemala as part of our company’s annual medical mission trip. As in previous years, the team will provide much-needed medical care and new stoves to the people of the Guatemala highlands. This year, the team is joined by several renowned eye surgeons to focus on helping Guatemalans with a particular condition – strabismus.

Strabismus is more commonly referred to as cross-eye. With the help of surgery to realign the eyes, it can be corrected. Unfortunately, not many people within Guatemala have access to this type of corrective surgery. Talking with doctors, you learn that the challenge with strabismus is not just that the eyes are misaligned, but that this often causes double-vision. In addition to the physical effects of strabismus, there also is a social stigma associated with the condition; often children with strabismus are thought to be unable to read or learn, and many are bullied by their peers. Fortunately, this condition can be corrected through surgery and a process of helping the patient to relearn how to see. Team Hope includes two strabismus specialist surgeons who will be helping to correct the condition in children and adults throughout the week.

But before surgeries could begin, the team’s first order of business upon arrival at our host hospital in Patzun was to set-up the OR and quickly triage and schedule patients for the week. More than 20 strabismus patients are expected to receive life-changing surgery. In addition to helping these patients, doctors will also conduct a number of other surgeries, including gall bladder removals, hernia corrections, tumor biopsies, and general surgeries.

When the team arrived at the hospital on Sunday, more than 50 patients were patiently waiting outside, hoping for the opportunity to see a physician. Within hours, the volunteer team of healthcare professionals set up a triage area in the courtyard of an orphanage and started patient consults.

Several past patients were already scheduled for check-ups, including a 46-year old woman – Augustina – who had visited the surgical center last year and had a large tumor removed from her eye. With the help of Dr. Jorge Corona, Augustina now has partial vision in her eye, which previously could only look downward because of the tumor. Grateful and kind, she hugged Dr. Corona immediately upon seeing him and excitedly shared her progress.

A young boy named Mauricio was also a return patient at the surgical center. Mauricio is suffering from a tumor that is growing behind his eye and harming his eyesight. Mauricio visited Dr. Corona last year for a biopsy, which found the tumor to be benign, but growing. The team knew that if they could not remove the tumor, Mauricio would be unable to close his eyelids and would, ultimately, go painfully blind. After a year of planning and patience, Mauricio and his mother made their way back to the clinic for surgery on Monday. This sweet, shy boy was met with hugs and warm welcomes from the entire surgical team. He was brave, despite his understandable anxiety when faced with this complex procedure and new environment. After more than five hours of surgery, Mauricio emerged tumor-free and ready to start his recovery. As of the time of this post, he was at the hospital under the care of nurses in the post-op unit. We hope to share more news on his story in the near future.

In addition to these two extraordinary cases, doctors saw many other patients throughout the day and will continue to perform strabismus and other surgeries throughout the week.

You can learn more about our volunteers and the patients we are serving through Facebook #AMNGivesBack.
Guatemala 2017 Blog 2 Pic1Guatemala 2017 Blog 2 Pic2

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