From August 27 to September 3, 2016, CCK and Dr. Frank Collini’s 18th medical mission abroad operated on forty-nine poor and orphaned children in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Our superbly trained team of seventeen doctors, nurses, and support people traveled over 3000 thousand miles to operate in the Hospital León Becerra.
The CCK team traveled with medical instruments and supplies, but Dr. Collini had contracted for the bulk of the operating needs to be purchased and waiting in Guayaquil, having learned that it is often difficult or impossible to bring pharmaceuticals into Ecuador. CCK also provided the mission staff with lodging, meals, and transportation. In return each volunteer contributed their time and invested $250 dollars to secure a place on the team.
The CCK mission team performed life-changing surgery on boys and girls ranging in age from babies to teens. This year they focused on a birth defect particularly prevalent in this part of the world–deformed or completely missing ears, an extremely challenging problem to correct. This birth defect is also a very disfiguring one and results in a child being ostracized and prevented from living a normal life.
The week-long operating marathon was the culmination of months of intense planning here in Shavertown, as well as in Miami, Atlanta and Guayaquil. Here in Pennsylvania, Susan Collini recruited personnel, coordinated transportation to and from Ecuador, collected all supplies and inventory, and made sure all documentation was in order. In Miami, Florida, the James Correa Foundation and its marvelous director Maria Correa, arranged lodging for the team and coordinated all the official documents, legal forms, red tape, logistics, and local contacts. As a liaison between nations, Maria Correa is without peer. Then, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Dr. Maria Piendo, an experienced pediatrician, stepped in to handle the post-op and recovery of the patients. Without the tremendous support and generosity of these three extraordinary women, the mission simply could not have happened.
“The camaraderie and working units of the team this year were stellar. The cases were incredibly challenging and were successfully orchestrated! All in all it was one of the most memorable missions,” said Dr. Collini.
Next year’s mission will return to Guayaquil from July 22 to 29, 2017.