By the Hands of a Surgeon

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Moreano World Medical Mission: Part 2

Dr. Edwin Moreano, a plastic surgeon from Queens, New York, recently conducted his 22nd mission trip providing reconstructive surgeries to people in need.

Traveling to Latin America to treat children from low-income families who were born with deformities, affected by burns, or facing medical problems that require plastic surgery, Moreano World Medical Mission (MWMM) brings together skilled surgeons to provide much-needed care.

In Part 1 of this blog, a recovery room nurse, Althea McLeish, introduced us to the MWMM team and its most recent trip to Paraguay. In Part 2, David Gugerty, a long-time volunteer on these missions, recalls the patients he met during the team’s time there. 

From the heart of a nurse to the hands of a surgeon

Dr. Edwin Moreano led his team of 31 surgeons, nurses, surgical technicians, and volunteers into Hospital Nacional de Itauguá, a public teaching hospital located an hour from Asunción, the capitol of Paraguay.

Fellow plastic surgeon Dr. Wilbur Hah of Orange, Texas and Dr. Moreano performed dozens of surgical procedures over the course of just a few days, aiding patients of all ages who have limited resources.

In the operating room were anesthesia experts Marion Enlgish-Rowe, CRNA; Cynthia Dozier, CRNA; and Dr. Roy Berenholz. In the recovery room was our skilled team of nurses.

The people of Paraguay

It was incredible to meet the residents who availed themselves during the Moreano Medical Mission. People young and old, with an array of conditions, were seen and treated by our surgical team.

We helped a young child, two-year-old Karina, who had a large hemangioma on her upper cheek removed. The procedure went smoothly and she was very happy to be reunited with her parents and siblings afterwards. She was comforted and cared for by pediatrician Dr. Loriann Stiuso and our amazing team of recovery room nurses.

I also met Enriqueta, a 65-year-old woman, who is a member of the native Guarani people. She had a large squamous cell carcinoma surgically removed from her forehead.

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Scars that are more than skin-deep

Many of the conditions we saw had clear implications for both the physical and psychological health of these people.

Several patients had scars that clearly affected their quality of life, such as a 14-year-old boy with a massive keloid scar on his chest, which he reported was caused by chicken pox. One 23-year-old woman had a debilitating burn caused by hot water. Living with these types of scars is difficult, and these patients’ surgeries will be life-changing.



I always receive more than I’ve given

On every mission I’ve been blessed to volunteer for, I’ve received more than I’ve given because I’ve been able to personally witness people’s lives being transformed at the hands of multiple talented nurses, surgeons, and volunteers working as a team.

The repairs performed by the team — everything from congenital malformations to cleft lips to basal cell carcinoma — were artfully performed and will have profoundly positive affects on these patients’ lives.

This year, an incredibly helpful donation of supplies was given by Henry Schein Cares and facilitated with the help of Congressman Tom Suozzi’s office. The team had a large amount of specifically needed medical supplies and drugs provided, making this year’s mission better prepared than ever.

Finally, and very importantly, the Moreano Mission once again encouraged every surgery to be observed by the energetic and intellectually curious local surgeons and medical students of Paraguay. Hundreds took advantage of this offer, allowing the impact of the team’s work to live on well past our visit.

Written by David Gugerty, Volunteer for Moreano World Medical Mission