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Children’s Hospital Colorado, in conjunction with the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health, sent a team of 18 medical professionals, including anesthesiologists, surgeons and nurses, to the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, located in Guatemala City. From January 23 -29, the team performed more than 60 procedures on patients ranging in age from 3 months to 18 years.
The surgeries performed included reconstructive ear surgeries to repairing complex congenital anomalies to general pediatric surgeries such as hernia repair, orchiopexies and a variety of others. This is the fourth consecutive year the team made the mission trip where they performed procedures over a one-week period.
Each year, Children’s Colorado and Project C.U.R.E., the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world, work together to gather everything that is needed for the surgeries, which the medical team brings with them, packed in almost 40 suitcases.
The medical team, which includes plastic surgeons, pediatric surgeons, operating room and post-anesthesia care unit nurses, and pediatric anesthesiologists, has focused specifically on microtia repair and general surgery such as hernia repair, circumcisions and gall bladder surgeries.
The medical team was led by surgeons Dr. Stig Somme, NICU surgical director, and Dr. Frederic Deleyiannis, pediatric plastic surgery department chief. Additionally, Tammy Woolley, RN, executive director of perioperative services at Children’s Colorado, served as head nurse and Dr. Megan Brockel as lead anesthesiologist.
“The Moore Center provides us with a safe environment to perform surgery in a country with scarce surgical health care resources for the majority of their children. Most of the pediatric surgery patients have conditions that are not a top priority in the public hospitals, because they are not imminently life-threatening,” said Dr. Somme. “Our team from Children’s Colorado is staffed to provide compassionate and excellent care at the level of what is provided at Children’s Colorado locations in Colorado. Everyone participating in the trip is working hard to make sure we can help as many children as possible during our short stay. It is truly amazing to experience the ‘esprit de corps’ while in Guatemala.”
“We will see more than 60 children in the clinic with varying needs. Some have been previously operated on while others will be new patients,” said Woolley. “Over four days, Drs. Somme and Deleyiannis with our pediatric nursing team will perform the procedures, some lasting between four and six hours. It is an incredible team effort that touches not only the patients and their families lives, but ours as well.”
“Children’s Colorado in partnership with the Center for Global Health, is deeply committed to helping improve the quality of life for children around the world. This is just one of several programs we are engaged in internationally that addresses pediatric care, but what makes this mission trip unique is the extent of continuous follow-up care we are able to provide the patients we see in Guatemala,” Dr. Deleyiannis, said. “We return each year so we can provide critical repeat care, as well as see new patients. This is important for many patients and ultimately, it allows us to tie clinical genetic research to the work we are doing.”
According to Dr. Deleyiannis, it can be difficult to conduct long-term follow-up care in any third world situation or environment because often the existing facilities don’t have an established relationship with a university or medical center. But the work Children’s Colorado does in Guatemala is conducted at a first-world surgical center at the Moore Center. “The Moore Center is well established and is staffed with doctors who are in touch with us continually. This ensures the follow-up care we provide patients is very reliable,” said Dr. Deleyiannis.