Neurosurgery- Gratitude

Doña Berta began her 4-hour walk at 3am just to reach the CAMO Neurosurgery Team. But Doña Berta was not hoping for a miracle; she was hoping to thank the neurosurgeons for giving her a miracle healing. At the CAMO office, Honduras Executive Director Jose Bautista (with his usual gentle spirit) asked Doña Berta if she was a family member of one of the patients. “No,” she replied. “I was a patient last year. I just came to say thank you.” Jose barely kept up with Doña Berta as they walked to the place where the neurosurgery team was screening patients. When she saw Dr. JC Tabet, Dr. Roberto Alvarez, Ed Rhodes, Mary Harris, Marlene Bennett and Deb Sorge, she could no longer contain herself. Doña Berta jumped into Dr. JC Tabet’s arms. For twenty years, she suffered with pain. Today she is painfree! For doctors and nurses, the gift of gratitude is the most memorable gift of all. CAMO sees patients who come from humble living conditions, who work 12- hour days making an average of $2.50 a day, and who walk for miles with the hope of being helped. But it is impossible even for a hard-working family to afford surgery which requires more than $50,000 worth of instrumentation and appliances. This year, some of the cases were devastating for the team to see, beyond anyone’s capacity to comprehend in Honduras (including CAMO’s). For instance, the lack of resources would condemn a 22-yearold mother to impending paralysis and eventual life support systems due to a vascular tumor in her neck. So, the CAMO teams are faced with hard decisions. Twenty-five consults are preselected, and then only 12 patients hoping to regain mobility and freedom from pain are selected for surgery. Some people could wait until next year, but others would not survive. These are the decisions faced by Honduran Dr. Robert Alvarez and his USA counterpart, Dr. JC Tabet. Don José was one of the lucky ones. Five days after having major back surgery, Don José walked out of the hospital, relieved from his previous pain. The smile on his wife’s face shows the impact this surgery will have on his and his family’s life. It is not possible in one team week to help everyone who is in need, but CAMO is grateful for the opportunity and the means to help 12 people. And CAMO is grateful for the medical professionals who volunteer their own time and money to change people’s lives for the better. Their gratitude, like Doña Berta’s, is undeniable, and such gratitude is contagious.

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