comayagua, honduras

Patient Profiles

Josue

Josué Inez Martinez-Palma is an 11-year-old boy who came to San Benito José and received a successful hernia operation on our January surgical mission. Josué comes from a remote mountain village in the Department of Francisco Morazan in Honduras. He is a brother to five other siblings in the family, and the twin of José Santos. When Josué and his twin were five years old they were wrestling and Josué was hurt. At first his family thought nothing of his injury, chalking it up to rough play with his brother. They knew, as all mountain families do, that children are tough; they thought he would naturally mend.

Over the course of the next 6 years they realized Josue’s injury was a little more than a bruise or bump. Each time his hernia became enlarged or inflamed Josué and his father would make a 3-hour trip on horseback to the closest rural health center. In October his family heard the radio ad announcing SBJ’s November surgical mission. Together they made the 3-day trip by horse and bus for their consult and eventual surgery. Now, months later, Josué is at home with his family, busy being a healthy 11-year-old.


MJ Isbell

Paulina López Pérez, 60, lives in Florida de Opatoro, La Paz: mountainous coffee-growing country a several hours bus ride from Comayagua. Paulina came to the Medical Center for surgery after having been diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. The lenses of both eyes were completely clouded to the point of blindness, and she needed assistance to make her way through SBJ on the day of surgery.

Dr. Richard Seeger noted that the cataracts of the patients of the surgical mission were much more advanced than is typically seen in the US, where surgery is usually done while cataracts are still small. Paulina had the cataract removed from her right eye. It was an overwhelming moment during the post-op exam when Paulina's eye was uncovered and she realized that she could see again! The day after surgery she was able to walk out of the Center unaided. The March 2007 mission was the first at St. Benedict Joseph to offer eye surgery.

 

MJ Isbell

Lilian Aracely Palomo Reyes, 18, is from the mountain village of San José el Injerto, Comayagua. She is the oldest of five children in her household. Her step-father is a member of the indigenous Lenca tribe; he works as a farmer and serves as a lay leader for the local Catholic Community.

Lilian first came to the St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center in August 2005 for a consultation with visiting orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Kelley of Atlanta. Through Dr. Kelley’s efforts, Lilian was sponsored for surgery in the US by Childspring International of Atlanta. All of the preliminary medical workups, immigration documents, and international communication were coordinated through SBJ. Lilian flew to the US on July 22 and was operated on the following week by Childspring board member Dr. Carl Sackler at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Since then she has been receiving postoperative checkups, therapy and other healthcare. She will return to Honduras as soon as her treatment is complete.

 

Betty Saraí. When the friars first met Betty Saraí last year, she was almost a year old, severely malnourished, developmentally delayed and only minimally responsive and interactive with others. She is from a small mountain village not far from Comayagua. Her mother suffers from mental illness, for which she has been hospitalized. That factor apparently impeded normal mother-infant bonding, and produced a life-threatening set of circumstances for Betty.

Dr. Wilmer Perez, Director of the St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center, examined Betty and came up with a vitamin and protein rich diet using food that could be stored without refrigeration in the family’s simple home. Every two weeks for the past 10 months, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have provided Betty with the foods prescribed by Dr. Wilmer. We are overjoyed to report that Betty is now a plump, responsive toddler nearing her proper weight.

Bety

Bety after

 

Mishael

Mishael Larios Ramirez is 9 years old and just completed third grade. He and his family live in the town of Minas de Oro (“Gold Mines”), located in prime mountainous coffee country, several hours from Comayagua. His parents heard about the May 2005 surgical mission through their pastor, Fr. Richard Gancayco, a US missionary priest serving in the diocese of Comayagua and a friend of the Friars. Like many rural Hondurans, Mr. Ramirez is a farmer who raises crops to support his wife and five children.

Mishael, accompanied by his father and older brother who is deaf, arrived at SBJ on Monday, May 16th, along with several hundred other potential patients. Later that week he underwent a successful surgical procedure performed by Dr. Paul Radway of Colorado.

He recovered quickly and without complications, and Fr. Gancayco was pleased to report that Mishael was back out playing on the soccer field four weeks after his operation.

The St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center publicizes its free medical services and surgical missions through the network of Catholic parishes and satellite village chapels that extends throughout the country, as well as through a similar network of Evangelical churches, making use also of Catholic, Evangelical and secular radio broadcasts, newspapers and the Honduran public health system.

 

Paula

Paula Vasquez Lazo, nine years old, is from the village of Santa Elena in the neighboring Department of La Paz. She first came to St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center last November for treatment by a visiting U.S. specialist who was part of the Light of the World team. Since undergoing an initial procedure during that surgical mission, Paula has returned to St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center almost monthly for follow up care. Paula possesses many of the characteristics that qualify patients for special attention at St. Benedict Joseph: an indigenous female child from a remote mountain village with a chronic health need. While in other circumstances these characteristics could become obstacles to medical care, for us they make her a privileged patient.

 

Victoria

Victoria García, 57, is from Los Planes del Horno, a remote satellite village of Comayagua that has neither electricity nor running water. She is a wife, a mother of nine and a grandmother.

She and her husband, Gregorio, are Catholic lay leaders in the village. Her family - part of the indigenous population of Honduras - engages in subsistence farming, usually raising just enough corn and beans to survive; they rarely have money. They live in one of 64 homes built in the village a few years ago by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Victoria had walked for two days before arriving at the St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center on September 4 to be treated for gastritis and conjunctivitis. Because she is from a distant mountain village, Victoria was placed at the beginning of the line of waiting patients at the Center to be treated first and so to be able to begin the long trek back home as soon as possible.

The St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center exists for Victoria and for the hundreds of thousands of Hondurans in similar situations whom she represents.