Let me start by saying that it was a privilege to attend the trip to El Salvador. A feeling that I will never forget was the sound of applause as the physicians and team members first entered the hospital in El Salvador. This moment marked the arrival of hope for patients and their families, many of whom had been waiting, enduring pain and hardship for years and who would continue to wait for hours or even days (without any complaints) to be treated. After seeing so many patients lining the hallways, struggling to walk through the hospital to be seen, it was evident early on that the impact of this trip was going to be incredible.
Each physician and their team had a screening room where they reviewed the patient's current and historical medical and physical condition. Any underlying medical conditions were identified in an assessment, and notes for each patient were gathered for discussion and selection later. In total the teams screened 67 patients and selected 56 for treatment.
TJO teams and Op Walk volunteers actively supported preparations for the first day's surgeries. As screening and selection takes place in the morning, this typically leaves a half day for surgery for the first 4-5 patients. These tasks included cleaning and preparation of instruments, organizing implants, and supporting teams in any tasks that need hands, including moving patients across beds in recovery.
Personally one of the most memorable parts of the trip to El Salvador was having the opportunity to spend time interviewing the patients and hearing their stories and experiences post surgery. As we continue this series I will share many of these stories, as they represent the impact that these trips and the surgeries have not just on the patient but their broader family and the communities they work and live in. A patient story that has stuck with me ever since I spent time with her was that of Rosa.
Rosa always loved to cook and taught herself how to make spiced grilled chicken. She was a chicken vendor for 42 years. She suffered through 5 years of pain due to arthritis and had recently fallen, which made it harder to work, so she stopped a few years ago.
In 1980, Rosa created a special punch like a frappé called "Ponche Brujo" which became very popular. Her son, a TV anchor in El Salvador, was helping with the shop when he realized he could make more money selling the drinks. He actually went on to be granted a patent on the drink. Rosa’s favorite Ponche Brujo is over ice with caramel, but she also enjoys the iced piña colada and bubble gum flavors. So if you get to Izalco, Rosa insists that you try both the hot and the cold versions. They are the best!
Special thanks goes to all the TJO attendees: Sylvia Sorensen, Jennifer Deiderich, Nick Taylor, Steve Lemperle, Luca Terziotti & Brian Tracy. Your effort and dedication on this trip was and is inspiring, the impact you had will continue long after the work you did ended. Thank you.
We will continue to share more stories over the coming weeks. In the meantime, keep driving TJO; the impact you make changes lives!
-Craig Hoppe, Director of Marketing, TJO