Saturday, May 21, 2011

A week well spent

Sometimes in the last few weeks it looked as if our cataract surgery week would never happen. We hadn't registered as many patients as usual in San Rafael Cedros in February and half of the patients we registered didn't go to Hospital Cojutepeque for the required pre-surgery tests. One of our surgeons was unable to get the required Apostille (look it up on the internet!) for his license and curriculum vitae in time, and he couldn't come. The other surgeon mistakenly sent in last year's license, duly Apostilled, and I didn't even notice until the Medical Board called me. The paperwork for our franquisia (permission to import medications and supplies) was delayed in the Archdiocese because of a staffing change until too late. In the last couple of days before the mission team arrived on May 14th, it felt like a recipe for disaster.

Instead, it's been a wonderful and inspiring week, and a reminder to me that trust and patience are such necessary elements in this work. The hospital found us enough additional patients to keep our team busy each day of the week. The customs officers at the airport very kindly helped us find a way around the franquisia problem. And while we brought only one ophthalmologist, the amazing Dr. Tony Piscano (the Medical Board kindly said he could work as long as he had his current license with him), Dra. Ana Vilma de Burgos, a local ophthalmologist and our sponsor for SEE, International, worked with him for three of our five days. Our team performed 40 surgeries on 33 patients (we had a number who required more than one surgery). Our patients came away smiling, delighted with their new vision.

Our mission team had three Salvadoran members this time: Silvia Pleitez, a Salvadoran doctor now studying for a medical license in the U.S., has been on most of our mission trips; Rosy Melara, a recently retired scrub nurse, volunteered her time for the week; and Rosa Aguiar, a community organizer from Comasagua, joined us as patient coordinator for the third time. Here's Rosa wheeling a patient in for his post-op check.

I'm grateful to the Sisters and friends who responded to my urgent calls for prayer for this mission: as you can tell, they were abundantly answered. Thanks be to God!

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