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Day 5, Tuesday, May 31

Welcome back! After a team reflection of our mission and a quick meal at the hotel, we’re off to the races again. Since our first day, the temperature has dropped, although we are still seeing the heavy rain (that has been the hallmark of our time in the country) multiple times per day.

Our friend with the amazing voice is still recovering from yesterday, and today he walked around for the first time post-op. Additionally, the ward nurses could excuse almost every patient who recovered overnight from the ward. They were all very happy to go home with their families and finish recovering away from the hospital.

We’ve had some amazing stories from our patients today that I’m delighted to share with you all.

Candelaria, an older woman, was one of the sweetest patients we’ve had so far on this trip. She received her operation, which proceeded as planned, and went to rest in the ward. There seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary until we began interviewing her while she recovered. After learning that she had taken a bus to a nearby city and walked the duration of her journey, we checked a map. We made a baffling discovery: Candelaria had walked 20 kilometers (12 miles) to receive surgery! This was no normal patient; we had met a superhero in real life! She was very humble and brushed off compliments from our team, smiling all the while, but what we would consider an amazing journey is just a daily fact of life for many Guatemalans is not lost on us.

Another patient I’ve wanted to talk about for a while is a middle-aged man named José, who we met earlier in the week. On the first day of surgeries, we met with José to learn about his life and journey to our team. He suffered from his condition for months while being the sole breadwinner for his family. In desperation, he prayed to God for a solution to his troubles and found a flier for the hospital a few days later. Having surgery frightened him, but he still found the courage to come and receive help. We followed José through the procedure today and met with him after resting for a while. While receiving surgery was still a scary idea for him, he was relieved that the process was much more accessible and his recovery much faster than he expected. José thanked us at the end of our conversation, and most of all, he thanked God for bringing our team and him together.

Our surgery teams performed multiple flawless gallbladder removals, which can be complex because the gallbladder is very close to other organs, which can be damaged. Even with these complex tasks, the teams proceed through operation after the operation with care and expertise.

We’re very grateful for your viewership and readers back at home and will return tomorrow on our Surgery Day 3.

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