Last Day in Honduras

Friday morning. It is the last work day here in San Pedro Sula for the team. I am Catherine deVries, founder of IVUmed. This has been a nostalgic trip for me, since this is the first place that I visited 16 years ago when Interplast’s founder, Don Laub, invited me on a surgical team trip. At that time, I was overwhelmed by everything. The poverty. The smells at the hospital. The long hours standing on our feet at the operating table. The long lines of patients who had traveled for days waiting to be seen.

Since then, much has changed here. The local nonprofit that we work with, the Ruth Paz Foundation, has become a highly efficient organization that runs everything from contacting the patients to long-term follow-up. They feed the team, arrange our transportation, and generally run the Honduran side of the show. We now have a team of Honduran surgeons that have developed excellent skills in pediatric urology. They just need a little tune-up on some specialized procedures, which is understandable, considering that in their practices, they cover the full range of pediatric surgical diseases and also practice general pediatrics. They are truly amazing. We have a group of volunteer anesthesiologists as well, and they help us to run the 3rd room.

Some things remain the same. The poverty. The exhaustion at the end of the day. And the wonderful sense comraderie between team members. The patients and their families are a great source of good spirit. They are doing well, even after some major operations. Lily keeps the kids entertained with games and art projects. We will be wrapping up the surgery this afternoon, but will stay in touch with the Honduran team by email throughout the year. It is sad to be leaving so soon. It feels like we just arrived and yet we can all feel the intensity of a week of 14 hour days in the OR in our knees and necks. It will be good to take a rest tomorrow.

~Ann Spencer

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