Rodrigo's Surgery

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hi Everyone,

This is going to be a fast one because I am only home for 24 hours then back to the hospital in the mountains but I just have to share with you my last 48 hours. You all remember Rodrigo, the little boy from a small Mayan village that was burned a year ago. He somehow pulled a huge hot pot of corn stew off a wood burning stove and on to his body. He somehow lived after being taken to a terrible government hospital that did more harm than good.

Here is Rodrigo a week ago.

His arms have contracted more and more each week. His mother has been bringing him here to my clinic about once a month because there are actually holes in his skin, pockets that get infected. We had been trying for a long time to get him help from the States but it is a long process. A couple of weeks ago I was having a board meeting with the people on my newly formed board of directors and one of them introduced me to the head of an organization called Helps International. They do basically what I do but on a big scale with about 120 people on a team and usually about 15 doctors and surgeons. He told me they were having a team this week that had a plastic surgeon. I asked if I could bring a 9 y/o boy who had been burned and needed plastic surgery. They said to send the info to the surgeon and she can make the decision. Well, I corresponded with her and she said she would do the surgery only if I scrubbed in and helped and then did the casting and the therapy he would need for a year. She said I also need a way to do follow up exams. I told her about the wonderful video company in the States called Med Vision just donated a unit that will let us communicate with unbelievable clear video and audio. So you can see him every week when I do the therapy. I said, "Done Deal!"

So I jumped in my boat and went up river to the village and told the father to have Rodrigo and some clothes at my house tomorrow morning. We will be driving 12 hours to a hospital on the other side of Guatemala but they have an American plastic surgeon who is willing to do the surgery on Rodrigo. He thanked me and said OK. The next day my nurse and I drove Rodrigo and his father to the far side of Guatemala so far up in the mountains that we had to turn the heater on in the truck. We had no coats or sweaters or any warm clothing because I had never been to this part of Guatemala and did not know it was so high in altitude. It as actually cold! The next morning we took Rodrigo in as the first patient because they needed to keep him for the full 6 days of recovery. So at 8:00 am we scrubbed in for surgery. Marleni, my nurse explaining to Rodrigo and his father in their language exactly what is going to happen and what to expect. Before surgery started we all gathered around Rodrigo and prayed for Gods hand on this boy and to give us the wisdom to do the surgery so as to change this boy’s life.

Getting Rodrigo anesthetized and equipment ready.

Dr. Amanda Gosman, the plastic surgeon, needed a very special piece of equipment called a Derma Tome, to take the large amounts of skin grafts we would need to use. They don't even make this type of machine anymore but she found one in a small hospital in CA and they loaned it to us for this case.

His arms had to be cut completely open and then release the scare tissue and muscles.

When the first arm was released and extend I realized this the first time in one year his arm had been straight.

The two surgeons on the left and me and the OR nurse on the right.

We worked for a total of 6 ½ hours on his arms and when I finally lifted him off the operating table and on to the gurney to take him to recovery. I was glad my face mask and glasses hid my tears. After driving 12 hours on roads in the mountains you would not believe me if I told you about, then doing surgery for 6 ½ hours straight with no break from standing, I looked at this young boy with bandages and cast holding his arms straight and walked behind the hospital and wept. Everything came together so well and surgery went so well all I can do is thank God! I was totally exhausted and have never felt better in my life. Soon after Rodrigo was in recovery, I received an urgent call that I had to return to Rio Dulce and take care of some family matters.

I changed out of my scrubs and drove till midnight to Guatemala City to some friends home. Then today I picked up supplies for the emergency room and finished the last 7 hours of driving and just got home and had to write this because I have only 24 hours here and then I have to go back to the hospital in the mountains to get Rodrigo and his father. While doing the surgery I got to know the lady surgeon and she and her husband have decided to come back to Rio Dulce with me when I get Rodrigo. They want to see my ER and see if they can do surgeries in it and also help me do some planning on what we need for Operating Rooms in the hospital if the Lord allows me to build it here. She is as excited about working here as I am about having her and her husband come down here for short term mission trips to do surgeries.

One of my board members called me as I was driving back today and said, "I am buying you a new Toyota Ambulance so you don't have to haul your patients in the back of that pick up truck." I again had a hard time driving with wet eyes. There are so many other things God is doing here to help me with this work that I am truly overwhelmed at times but I just have to keep my eyes on Him and He will direct my paths. He is bringing people into my life that are helping and blessing me more than I can even describe to you. I just wanted to let you know the miracle work that God did on Rodrigo. Please keep him in your prayers as we start the therapy phase and then he will need to still go to the States for more surgeries. But it looks like I have found an organization called Fresh Start and they are willing to help do the surgeries he will need, so keep praying OK?

Good night and God Bless,
In His Service,