Dr. Stewart Lowry Surgery Trip
|Dr. Stewart Lowry, at right, volunteers at Clinica Ezell in south central Guatemala.
When Stewart Lowry, MD, packs his bags for Guatemala, he’s headed for a few long days of surgeries, and a sense of satisfaction from helping those who otherwise would go without.
This fall, Dr. Lowry, a surgeon with Miami County Surgeons/Upper Valley Medical Center, made his second mission trip to Clinica Ezell in south central Guatemala with Health Talents International, a Church of Christ nonprofit Christian organization. He previously served on two mission trips to Haiti.
Health Talents International groups of volunteers visit Guatemala 10 times a year. Each trip is a one-week stay either at the clinic in Montellano or to more remote locations.
On Dr. Lowry’s last trip, 44 volunteers – those who provide surgery, anesthesia, nursing support and general help – signed up to perform or assist with general surgeries and gynecologic surgeries.
“We did a lot of operations. I probably did a month’s worth of work in four days. They were very busy,” Dr. Lowry recalled. He performed primarily hernia operations along with a few gallbladder surgeries.
The team worked with 77 people who came to the clinic from various parts of the country.
“We arrived on a Saturday night at the compound and worked our brains out until Thursday morning,” Dr. Lowry said. Friday was a day for unwinding before the volunteers were back on a plane and headed home to the states.
He said Health Talents International is well run with local physicians and church personnel who maintain the clinic and prepare for each medical group’s visit.
Team members are volunteers and pay their expenses. They come from across the United States, but many are from Southern states such as Texas and Tennessee, Dr. Lowry said.
Most team members are medical professionals. Those who are not are trained to assist with tasks such as cleaning surgical instruments.
“Those of us who do this for a living were doing what we do here. We are providing the same care, I think, that you would get here in the states. They (the local residents) otherwise would not have gotten it (the care),” Dr. Lowry said.
Many of the patients had lived with the hernias for a number of years because they do not have the access to care available in the states, he said.
“Here you can go to a hospital within minutes of where you live as opposed to those folks who often times have to walk for days to get their care,” Dr. Lowry said.
He was introduced to the surgery mission trips through his church.
“I do it for the giving aspect. What it gives me is the sense of meaning for what I do,” he said.
“I so often get bogged down here with all the long hours, the decreasing respect for medicine and all of the haggling that goes on over getting paid. I can go down there and not worry about that,” he added.
His teenage son, Nathan, accompanied him on his first trip to Guatemala in 2009, helping count medications and seeing village life in the country. Dr. Lowry already is planning another trip in August.
“I don’t get paid for it, but I get a sense of fulfillment that I’m doing something that these specific individuals otherwise wouldn’t get,” he said.
For more information on Health Talents International, visit www.healthtalents.org.
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