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For 23 years, a Honduras woman named Carmen suffered from a growing mandible tumor called an Ameloblastoma. The benign tumor had grown to the size of a melon affecting her ability to eat, speak, smile or work for many years.
Central American Medical Outreach (CAMO) organized an international humanitarian team which Laurie Yagley, registered nurse in Mercy Medical Center Intensive Care, and I participated in, along with healthcare professionals from Columbus, Ohio and Miami, Florida to work alongside the Honduran medical staff. Two full surgical teams spent 16 hours to successfully perform a first of its kind surgery in Central American to free the young woman from the tumor.
I first met Carmen earlier this year during a CAMO mission trip to Honduras. Carmen came to the clinic seeking help. Not equipped with the right equipment or staff, the team promised Carmen we would be back. A young woman, Carmen weighed approximately 75 pounds and was dwindling. Without surgery, we knew she would either starve to death or her airway would obstruct.
How can you not go when somebody asks you to help? I felt really strongly about going back.
Since surgery, Carmen now weighs 125 pounds, loves to talk on the cell phone CAMO provided, finished trade school and is a cook. To learn more about Carmen’s journey and her life today, visit www.camo.org.
This medical mission is one of many Mercy Medical Center physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals participate in each year. That’s why Mercy Medical Center created the Mercy International Mission Outreach (MIMO) department to support our hospital physicians and employees who donate their time and offer their medical expertise to help others around the world. Mercy International Mission Outreach coordinates donations of supplies, medications and recycled instruments and equipment to send with medical mission teams. Mercy’s efforts have helped people in the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Armenia, Honduras, Rwanda, Korea, Bulgaria, Colombia, Tanzania, Cuba, El Salvador and Syria.
About The Author
Katie Simmons, R.N. Coordinator of Mercy Blood Conservation Program, has worked at Mercy Medical Center since 1978. She has worked in the intensive care unit, operating room, and was an instrumental member of the start-up team for Mercy’s Blood Conservation Program in 2001. Simmons says Dr. Mars Bautista introduced her to international mission trips in 1991. To date, she has participated in 20 international medical missions to countries including Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and China. Simmons also volunteers her time to help with local ministries including Mercy Medical Center health screenings, a food donation program at North Canton Church of Christ, communion for shut-ins and the sick through The Basilica of Saint John the Baptist and the Boy Scouts Venturing Crew.