Helping Underprivileged Patients in Ecuador

I recently returned from a trip to Quito, Ecuador, along with staff from Tucson Orthopaedic Institute and other personnel, where we provided total knee replacements to patients with limited access to orthopaedic treatment. The group was created by Luis Piedrahita, MD, who has been involved with medical missions for 12 years and often participates with a similar group one or more times a year.

Lori Bryant, PT smiles with a patient

This trip was the first that Dr. Piedrahita coordinated on his own and he invited many colleagues from Tucson Orthopaedic Institute, including orthopaedic surgeon, Edward Petrow, Jr., DO, Laura Zimmerman, NP, and myself, Lori Bryant, PT. Zach Nandin, surgery technician at St. Mary’s Hospital, Sarah Gude, medical student, Jamison Trevino and Jordan Smith, from Stryker, also made the trip.

Luis Piedrahita, MD and Edward Petrow, DO performing surgery in Ecuador

Following a selection process, the team provided ten patients with knee replacements. All of the surgeries were performed in an operating room at Hospital Padre José Carollo. Stryker donated all of the implants, Tucson Medical Center donated much of the medical supplies, and OneStop Affordable Home Medical Equipment, a program of Jewish Family & Children Services of Southern Arizona, supplied all of the crutches.

Although the surgical conditions were very primitive and we had to improvise with limited supplies, the outcomes were extremely rewarding. The patients were incredibly grateful, breaking out in spontaneous applause when we arrived, and crying in gratitude after their surgeries for giving them the opportunity to walk once again.

 All of us that had the opportunity to go on this trip were given a chance to see what gratitude really looks like. These patients had so very little…no ice in the hospital, minimal pain control, and only one of the patients had his own cane.

Dr. Piedrahita hopes to repeat this trip on an annual basis, involving more people and providing a greater number of surgeries to those less fortunate living in our southern hemisphere.

I am honored and proud to work alongside my colleagues who donated their time and expertise to this extraordinary venture, and I encourage any of you who might be interested in visiting Ecuador to mark your calendars for the first week of November 2013. Hasta la vista!

Written by Lori Bryant, PT

Front: Zach Nandin, Laura Zimmerman, NP, Sarah Gude, Lori Bryant, PT
Back: Edward Petrow, DO, Jamison Trevino, Luis Piedrahita, MD, Jordan Smith