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Honduras 2009

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By GEORGE ROBERTSON, M.D.

This would be our eighth year in a row to travel to the Predisan Clinic in Honduras. Because of the political unrest in the country, we had trouble fielding a full crew for the adventure. After two months of calling and advertising, there were five people committee to the surgical work for one week at the clinic.

Early in the morning we departed from College Hills Church of Christ to catch our 6 a.m. flight to Miami. The whole ordeal was simplified by a porter who checked us and our baggage through to Tegucigalpa.

We arrived right on time and near our gate in Miami by midmorning and got to see the Florida Keys and Cuba on the last leg of our trip by air to Tegucigalpa.

The four-hour drive to the clinic seemed shorter than usual as we got to visit with our new friend Steve Shulman from New York who would be giving the anesthesia to our patients. A stop midway at the Mennonite store was a nice relief from the bumpy ride and gave opportunity for refreshments of cold drinks and ice cream.

When we arrived at Catacamas, supper had been prepared and we went to our motel quarters to rest up the next day’s activities. Arising early, we had breakfast of scrambled eggs and refried beans before going to devotionals at an alcohol abuse clinic. The lesson presented in English and Spanish by an American worker who was now on the staff there, was about adventure versus crisis. He pointed out that many of our self-imposed crises could be thought of as adventures in living.

After lunch, we went to the clinic to unload our supplies and arrange the rooms for surgery the next day. We had packed our suitcases with 200 pounds of items that we would need during the week’s work. We also saw 30 of the more than 60 patients who were waiting for surgical procedures, many of which would have to wait another month until the next surgery crew came for their procedures.

The next day we got up early and went to the clinic for a devotional before starting surgery. Many people prayed for our success and the welfare of our patients. That day we performed two laparoscopic gallbladder procedures and two hernia operations.

The following two days were similar in routine and followed by a night out at the local restaurants. None of the crew had any trouble eating the local food, but we were careful not to drink the water.

The last day of the clinic was the hardest. We had scheduled five gallbladder operations and managed to finish them by 7 that night.

The next day we went back to the clinic for a debriefing and equipment check before departing for the Valley of the Angels en route to Tegucigalpa. It rained all along our bus ride but cleared in time for us to do some souvenir shopping at the tourist town.

The only vestige of civil unrest in the capital city was a circle of Army troops and barricades around the Brazilian Embassy. Many of the restaurants were vacant and the airplanes to and from Tegucigalpa were nearly empty.

Our flights back to Miami and then on to Nashville were unremarkable except for a six-hour layover in Florida. This gave me time to thank Homer Dudley and Kitty Pennington for their outstanding contributions to the work making it possible for us to do 21 procedures over the four days of work.

Editor’s Note: Robertson is a physician with Family Medical Associates, PC, in Lebanon.

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