Honduras: Day Six

Source: Blog Post

Friday always seems to suddenly be upon us during each of the THP brigades. Despite the incredibly busy week, our team-building hike last Saturday seems forever-ago, and we have become a cohesive and collegial group that has much to be proud of – for a tremendous week of patient care and personal and group experiences that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Often, Friday is a day for tidying up the cases that required multiple or staged procedures and accomodating “add-ons” - patients who showed up during the week at the request of local physicians who heard that we are here. This trip, with our “extra” OR room on the first floor, we were able to maintain a busy schedule right to the end. As we eyed the responsibilities of cleaning up, sorting instrument cases, completing an inventory for subsequent brigades, we all pulled together to get things done.

Photo:  Kelly Boyd, RN (Duke University) reassuring a patient as they head towards the OR.

We performed 13 cases in our three rooms today, including 5 pediatric cases (syndactyly reconstruction, 2 burn contracture release cases, bilateral trigger thumbs, inferior trapezius to infraspinatus transfer with pectoralis lengthening) and numerous adult reconstruction cases including a pectoralis to biceps transfer, latissimus to infraspinatus transfer, ulnar shortening osteotomy, two flexor tendon reconstruction cases, and an ORIF distal radius. It was exciting to observe how everyone participated in multiple cases in order to keep things moving and to get things done effectively. We were notably relieved when our final distal radius case was completed as we were almost out of reasonably appropriate screws!

Photo: Fraser Leversedge, MD, and Steve Moran, MD.

Photo: Dr Ruch and Dr Moran operating on a pediatric elbow fracture.

As we headed towards the finish line, team members gathered up supplies and took an inventory for the next brigade. Keren Teitelbaum and Mary Beth Remy from Stryker led the charge and helped to organize our supplies for the Spring. They have inserted themselves into all aspects of our mission here this week – from assisting with therapy splinting, to helping in the OR, to participating on patient rounds – and we truly appreciate their support of our trip and their selfless service to our patients here in Honduras.

Photo: Keren Teitelbaum and Mary Beth Remy from Stryker.

Photo: Christmas stockings and gifts brought by our team on our boys’ and girls’ orphanage visits.

When the hospital day was over, we had a wonderful celebration of our week hosted by a local family and ongoing supporters of our trip, Gisselle and Chuy Canahuati. The Canahuati family, and the US company SanMar (particularly my brother Renton, Jorge Colindres, Raul Jordan, and Rosaura Cobos) have been integral in our successes in San Pedro Sula, providing us with local transportation and drivers, meals… and the intangibles: opportunities to visit local orphanages and schools, a visit to a local textile factory, guides to local restaurants, and their ever-presence during our week.  We had a fantastic night and it was a great tribute to our efforts as an entire team over the week – despite the challenges of having to wake up to round at the hospital on Staurday morning before we departed for the airport!

Photo: Friday evening team celebration dinner

This THP – Honduras brigade of 23 individuals came together as a group and accomplished many wonderful and memorable goals. We evaluated 152 patients in our clinic on Sunday and throughout the week. We performed 68 surgical cases – essentially all of them were complex reconstructive cases. We performed the first two free functional muscle transfer cases in Honduras that hopefully will transform the lives of two young men who had sustained brachial plexus injuries at work. We were able to spend time teaching several medical students and residents and work with local surgeons from Honduras who learned more about caring for patients with disorders and injuries of the upper limb. We brought “Chrsitmas” to brighten the day for boys and girls in two orphanages. We used teamwork, creativity, and compassion to care for many who would not have opportunities for improving their conditions. Importantly, we learned a little more about ourselves and the reasons we have pursued lives and careers in medicine. We are thankful to the THP and the AFSH for this opportunity to share our skills with those in need and to experience the incredible benefits of participating in such a rewarding endeavor.