Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Scrub In Peru

For a medical student the first time you scrub into a surgery is an important event. Today I had the opportunity to scrub into not just one, but two surgeries occurring at the same time in the same room.  Not only was it the highlight of my day, it was unique because it was in Cusco, Peru with medical missionaries from around the world.

I woke up at 5am today before the sun was up to walk to the Mother Teresa house to accompany one of the kids ( I will call him A to protect his identity) to the hospital. I wheeled the wheelchair over bumpy sidewalks with holes and rocks. I maneuvered through crazy Cusco traffic and lifted the chair over curbs. I realized how wheelchair unfriendly Cusco is.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 am for the surgery. We waited in the lobby for 3 hours before we were called in. We helped get the boy ready by removing cloths and dressing him in a cute hospital gown.

The wonderful nurses and the new toy
When the doctor arrived I asked it I could accompany A into the OR. The doctor looked at me in my scrubs and said "why not". I followed the doctor into a not so sterile operating room where one procedure was already underway on a 2 month old baby with cleft palate. I helped the doctor place the pulse oximeter and the blood pressure cuff, he even asked if I wanted to place the IV. Since I have only had experience placing one I declined the temptation.

We then started the procedure wich included fillings, crowns and removal of four teeth. While helping out with this procedure I was also able to watch a bilateral cleft palate surgery on the 2 month old right next door. The gurneys were literally side by side and I was right in the middle.

The cleft palate doctor even let me pull up him mask when it was falling down. Although I did not do much I learned so much while talking with the doctors. They all seemed very interested in teaching and talk about their specialties. Their were general surgeons, pediatric oral surgeons, anesthesiologist and surgical technicians who all had advice for my coming years of medical school.

A and his care team ( i look super excited)
When I was standing in the OR today I remembered why I am in medical school. I saw my future self in the doctors that come on these medical campaigns. The doctors who work tirelessly from 6am until 10pm saving the lives and bettering the futures of children who otherwise could not afford care.

The A  had a successful surgery. He will be able to eat better and will be in less pain than he was before. After removing his IV, giving him a Tylenol suppository and the amazing volunteer nurses giving him a new cloths and a stuffed animal to take home, we wheeled him back through the crazy streets of Cusco back to his home at the Mother Teresa House. 


  1. Glad you had such a motivating experience. This trip seems be paying off with all these wonderful opportunities..

  2. Wish I had your energy and enthusiasm