VALPARAISO | By generously donating their time and talents, several Porter physicians and nurses made a difference in the lives of children and adults in Nicaragua in February.
Traveling with the nonprofit organization, Healing, Health & Hope, the volunteer medical team comprised of Plastic Surgeon Nicholas Retson, M.D., Anesthesiologist Vikram Appannagari, M.D., Nancy Lijewski, RN, Martha Schweizer, RN, and Janine Button, CST, performed 58 procedures in one week. The procedures included nine cleft lip, 15 cleft palate, and various other congenital and burn deformity surgeries.
According to Dr. Retson, this was the team’s fourth trip to the city of Jinotega, Nicaragua. During this most recent mission trip, the team screened nearly 100 patients, scheduled 58 procedures, and subsequently worked over 80 hours of OR time in just 5 days. “By the time the team arrives in Nicaragua, many parents have traveled for days with the hopes of surgery for their child. Often a few arrive too late for the initial screening day and surgery scheduling,” said Dr. Retson. “Having a team that accepts a week of long days and is still willing to make room in the schedule for these children is part of what makes this team so exceptional. In just five days, they improved the lives of 36 children and 14 adults in 58 different ways,” he said.
The nonprofit organization, Healing, Health & Hope, led by Dr. Retson, travels with volunteer healthcare professionals at least twice a year, serving regions of India, Central America, and South America. The purpose of these trips is to bring surgical expertise to regions prevalent with cleft lips, cleft palates, and burn deformities, and to patients who could not otherwise afford these life-changing surgeries. This August, Dr. Retson will be traveling on his 40th mission. The team will be holding a golf outing to celebrate this milestone and raise funds for upcoming trips. For more information about this organization or the outing, visit www.healinghealthandhope.org