Dr. Burgess and Lisa Babel, PA-C, returned to El Fuerte and the clinic of San Blas in Sinaloa Mexico for another LIGA trip in early March. Each trip back to Mexico has allowed this team to reconnect with staff and gain continued familiarity with their surroundings. As always, the complexity and great need for care humbles and overwhelms those medical personnel who travel from different parts of the country to treat these patients.
This trip brought along some new volunteers from the Phoenix area. An anesthesiologist and surgical nurse from the valley added to the San Blas team and were a great help to Dr. Burgess and Lisa.
Dr. Burgess was able to follow up with some of his previous surgical patients and was kept busy with surgeries his first evening in clinic and throughout the day on Saturday. “It’s always a thrill to see previous patients and how they are progressing. I was especially excited to see the patient I treated last fall who was highlighted in the MundoFox video segment. He has been able to recover good finger and thumb movement despite not having access to a therapist,” said Dr Burgess.
Their first patient, Carmen, is a 53 year old female who had an explosive detonate in her hand in 2012. As a result of this injury she lost her ring and small fingers while deforming the other remaining digits on her dominant right hand. She is a florist and has to work in order to provide food for her family. One of the local translators who assists with the clinic watched as she arranged flowers with her hand and was able to hear her story. Carmen struggled with scar tissue in her hand making it difficult for her to reach or grasp objects. Dr. Burgess was able to help her by surgically releasing the contractures giving her more space between her thumb and index finger improving pinch, grasp and grip. Carmen is recovering well and the translator was able to pass on she is pleased with her recovery and early outcome.
Carlos is a 3 year old male who suffered a high voltage cable accident in 2013 that left him with a contracted long finger in his right hand. The initial treatment he received simply sewed the finger down onto itself rendering it useless and also preventing normal use of the rest of his hand. As it turned out, do to his initial tendon, nerve and vessel injury, the only option was to remove the contracted segment of the digit. He is now able to fully open and close the rest of his hand significantly improving his function.
Edwin is a 7 year old male patient with Down’s syndrome. He sustained burns to his hand after picking up a red hot coal from a fire when he was 3 years old. As a result he had scars throughout his hands that prevented him from being able to flex or extend his fingers. The fingers were stuck together creating a webbed hand which continued to progress as his hand tried to grow with his advancing age. His surgical challenge was to separate the digits from one another and then lengthen scar in the palm in an effort to allow him to extend his fingers. He has a very complex condition and Dr. Burgess expects to see and treat him in the future as his condition required progressively staged operations.
Roberto is a 44 year old male who suffered a severely broken wrist and severed tendons when he came upon thieves trying to steal his electrical tools. He was beaten with a machete. As a result, he has lost the use of his hand due to the severed tendons, he has developed contractures and scar to the hand and he has poorly aligned bone healing restricting joint movement. The injury changed his life and has prevented him from doing his job. Dr. Burgess operated on Roberto to release the scar tissue and to try and improve the tendon function of his wrist and hand. His next procedure in the fall will be to release more of the joints in his hand and possibly transfer more tendons to increase strength. Eventually he will require work on the bone to correct the joint destruction. Dr. Burgess was deeply moved by Roberto. “Roberto is a man of faith. He harbors no resentment to those who harmed him and he has accepted his disability. He was grateful I was willing to try anything to help him and said he accepted the outcome, good or bad, as God’s will,” said Dr. Burgess. “You hear those words and it makes you want more than anything to make a positive difference in this man’s life,” reflected Dr. Burgess.
The total number of patients treated at the San Blas clinic in March for the weekend was 234. These included specialties in general medicine, podiatry, plastic and general surgery, and hand surgery. Dr. Burgess and Lisa are looking forward to returning again in the future.