“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.”
~ Anthony Robbins ~
I was recently offered the chance to travel to Portoviejo, Ecuador to work with Fundacion La Vida, a clinic made possible by Bayside Medical Missions. I humbly accepted and must say that it was an eye-opening, incredibly rewarding experience.
La Vida Surgery Center was formed through a collaboration between Bayside Medical Missions, Samaritan’s Purse, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. The facility hosts two operating rooms and runs on a volunteer basis. Surgeons and staff donate their time and skills to provide opportunities to help those that otherwise would not have access to musculoskeletal treatment. Paul and Flor Fellers, two of the founding members of the facility, were gracious hosts. They also finance a great deal of the missions out of their own pockets.
La Vida is an incredibly well-run facility that depends on generous donations from multiple sources. While taking time away from family and work is very for most (believe me, I know!), small donations added together go a long way. I hope some of you feel compelled to help in any way you can by donating directly to Bayside Medical Mission. It’s easy, tax-deductible, and 100% of all donations goes towards patient care.
Over the course of a week, we performed approximately three-dozen surgeries and provided non-surgical treatment to many more; patients ranged from professional soccer players to petite elderly women, all of which would not have had the opportunity for surgery without the help from La Vida clinic. I was blessed to be surrounded by an incredible team, without which all of our successes would not have been possible.
There were several cases that stood out from the rest. We treated a gentleman that was crushed by a wall in an earthquake two years ago. He was unable to ambulate due to hyperextension and instability of his left knee. He had received a multiple ligament reconstruction after the accident, but the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) reconstruction had failed. The surgery proved to be successful and the patient was showing impressive strength and range of motion.
We were able to perform multiple ligament knee reconstructions on two professional soccer players during my time at La Vida. One received a left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) revision with primary repairs of the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) and Posterolateral Corner, while the other received a left ACL and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) revision. I was incredibly impressed with the determination these young men displayed; just hours after surgery, they were working on their range of motion and quad activation.
We were able to perform the clinic’s first reverse total shoulder arthroplasty during my time at La Vida! The patient suffered from a congenital malformation of the left glenoid with severe osteoarthritis and stiffness. After extensive surgery and a major glenoid bone graft, she had an excellent outcome and was showing improvement just hours after surgery.
Another patient required a revision of a right shoulder hemiarthroplasty that had been done many years prior. He had been unable to move his arm for 7 years! We were able to correct the cause of his immobility and he showed immediate improvement after surgery.
Finally, I performed a manipulation and capsular release on a woman who had suffered from adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) for six years. Her surgery went well, and the very next day she was showing an impressive range of motion without a nerve block or narcotics.
Overall, this trip was humbling and gave me a new appreciation of the people, facilities, and opportunities that surround me. La Vida clinic is truly changing the lives of those that otherwise would never have the opportunity to have surgery. No cost is charged to the patient, and the clinic runs on volunteer/donation basis. If you would like more information on Bayside Medical Missions or La Vida Surgery Center or would like to make a donation, please visit their webpage below.
A huge thank you to the Fellers and the staff of La Vida for hosting me, the team that made the trek with me, and my wife and family for keeping things running at home while I was away. It takes a village!