December 1, 2006

Children’s Hospital team returns from surgical trip to Guatemala

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A Guatemalan mother holds her 9-month-old daughter, Sandra Caal, who had surgery to repair her cleft lip.

Children’s Hospital team returns from surgical trip to Guatemala

A team from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt recently returned from its ear, nose and throat surgical trip to Guatemala.

The group of 17 Children's Hospital surgeons, doctors and staff members spent Nov. 5-11 performing procedures and surgeries on 39 children from the impoverished country at San Sebastian Hospital in Guatemala City.

Surgeries performed included cleft lip and cleft palate repairs, speech surgeries and removal of head and neck masses.

One 4-year-old patient had such extensive medical issues, the group realized she would need further surgeries in the near future. The patient suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome, a genetic, craniofacial birth defect that is characterized by a range of distinctive facial anomalies.

The group is hoping to secure funding to bring her to Children's Hospital for additional treatment, along with perhaps one more patient who has a large neck mass that extends into her chest.

Steven Goudy, M.D., assistant professor of Otolaryngology, who performed some of the surgeries, has been on several similar trips in the past.

“The families were very grateful,” he said. “The patients give you more than you could ever give them.”

This is the second official surgical trip to Guatemala since Children's Hospital partnered with The Shalom Foundation, a Middle Tennessee-based non-profit that provides health services and helps coordinate international medical missions and trips.

Children's Hospital is interested in expanding its involvement in Guatemala to provide teaching and rounding with residents, faculty and staff through monthly one-week trips. Pediatric residents at Children's Hospital may have the option in the future to participate in a residency program in the country.