Hernia Repair for the Underserved worked with Dr..Juan Carlos Alvarenga Ibanez and the Paraguayan Ministry of Health on a hernia repair mission in August 2014 with the dual purpose of providing care to the underserved and fostering sustainability through training and collaboration with local Paraguayan surgeons. This was our second trip to the Luque District hospital near Asuncion Archidona. While there is modest poverty in this location, these patients have limited access to care due to socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic factors.
Our surgical team included Dr. Campanelli and Dr. Marta Capalli from Milan Italy, Dr. Jim and Pat Manion from Creighton University, Dr. Cynthia Ferris and Tonya Daniels from Childrens’ hospital in Omaha, Dr. Rob Weinsheimer a Pediatric surgeon from Seattle and nurses and surgical technicians from Southern California (Debbie Edibiri, Sandy Highberg, her husband Greg and Carlos Zevallos) and Michigan (Dawn Porrit and Deb Bordine) – a truly diverse and outstanding group. Dr. Ibanez arranged in-country logistic support, identified potential patients with the help of Dr. Victor Lurashi and partnered with local surgeons and the government to facilitate training.
The team was on site for 6 days with 5 operating days. Fifty two hernia operations were performed by HRFU personnel and 3 Paraguayan surgeons were trained. In addition, Dr. Campanelli gave a lecture on hernia repair that was attended by 150 surgeons and nurses. There have been no patient complications reported after 4 week follow-up. We were unable to perform Pediatric hernia operations because the Paraguayan Pediatric Hernia Society objected to HRFU personnel training general surgeons to perform a pediatric operation.
After the trip most of the team journeyed to Iguazu Falls, one of the true wonders of the world. Below they are pictured with the Falls in the background. What a great picture!
The Lichtenstein mesh hernia repair was taught using the HRFU protocol to 3 surgeons by Dr. Campanelli. A standard rating form was utilized and all surgeons passed and were given 20 pieces of donated mesh for operations on poor patients. Later the surgeons will be videotaped using a GoPro camera and HRFU will send the videos to experts to review and determine if the training has been effective.
Providing mesh to our affiliated surgeons is helpful and allows them to continue operating and teaching with optimal materials. All 3 surgeons practice in systems that care for the poor and after further review of their operative abilities may be encouraged to teach others. Thus the impact of the trip increases exponentially. The C. R. Bard Foundation provided donated mesh and we thank them for their important contribution.
We greatly appreciate the team’s willingness to give back and provide the highest quality of care. This was an outstanding team with high quality people. And thank you to Dr. Ibanez who facilitated all governmental, customs, and local logistics. and the staff at Luque District hospital including Dr. Luraschi who generously extended their hospitality to our team.