Geographically, the department of Petén is the largest in Guatemala and and is primarily dense jungle landscape.
The Petén is rich in Mayan archaeological sites, such as Tikal and El Mirador. Tourists travel routinely in and out of these sites, but see little of the impoverished living conditions and need in Petén.
As in all of Guatemala, the Ministry of Health struggles to meet the healthcare needs of the residents here living in remote, hard-to-reach places. The Regional Hospital in San Benito and its dedicated staff need help in order to provide care for the people living in this region. In 2013, Refuge International took a small team to San Benito and provided a laparoscopic tower to aid the surgeons in their overwhelming workload. For several years, Refuge International has maintained a pipeline of donated supplies to improve patient care as well.
Dr. Jordan Stanley
It started out as a desire to teach. To use his talents to empower doctors to improve the care they provided their patients. And that is just what he did.
Dr. Jordan Stanley, and Orthopedic Surgery Specialist, made his first trip to Guatemala with Refuge International in February 2008. Since then, he has made one or two trips each year to help those in need. Dr. Stanley’s three daughters, Katheryn, Victoria and Gabrielle, have also traveled with him to serve on Refuge International mission teams.
During one of his trips to Guatemala, Dr. Stanley attended a small boy with an arm fracture that would require a pin to repair the broken bone. Unfortunately, there were no pins among the inventory of supplies but that didn’t stop Dr. Stanley from coming up with a solution to help this boy! Dr. Stanley collaborated with Ed Bebensee, a machinist who has volunteered with Refuge International for more than a decade, to forge a custom pin. The newly crafted pin was sterilized and Dr. Stanley placed it in the bone giving the young patient the use of his arm once more.
On another trip, Dr. Stanley saw a man suffering with a chronic bone infection in his leg. The man had been in an automobile accident years before and had developed the chronic infection that would not heal. His leg was useless he told Dr. Stanley. Having to always be on crutches, the man was unable to find consistent work. He had been to the Guatemalan national hospitals many times for an amputation, but was turned away time and time again for various reasons. One time, there was no anesthesia medication. Another time, no equipment to perform the surgery an so on.
Since it wasn’t a regular occurance for Refuge International teams to perform amputation procedures in Guatemala, we didn’t have the required tools on hand. So, once again Dr. Stanley and the team improvised. They visited the local hardware store, bought a saw, sterilized it, and performed the much-needed amputation. Refuge International also raised the funds to purchase a prosthesis for the patient so that he could again find steady work and provide for his family.
But it was always Dr. Stanley’s dream to work with other orthopedists in Guatemala and help them improve the care they provided their patients. In April 2016, Dr. Stanley and a Refuge International team traveled to Petén, Guatemala. After transporting donated laparoscopic equipment, Dr. Stanley worked alongside Dr. Rudy Cardona to perform the first arthroscopic procedures in that region of Guatemala.
It was an amazing week for both surgeons, with Dr. Cardona stating, “Dr. Stanley is my mentor. I will be forever grateful for his help and have learned so much from him. I hope to continue to be able to seek him out in cases that are difficult for me. The supplies and equipment donated will help so many of the people who have difficulty working because of their knee problems.”
Dr. Stanley was thrilled for the opportunity to be able to provide the equipment and the teaching needed, “Arthroscopy is not something you can become proficient at after only a few cases, but Dr. Cardona had a strong desire to learn and has a natural talent. I will continue to be available to him for any questions or problems he encounters. I plan on returning this year and to continue gathering supplies and equipment that can be used in the National Hospital to help the poorest of the poor.”
Dr. Jordan Stanley with local surgeon, Dr. Rudy Cardona, performing arthroscopic surgery in the Petén.
Dr. Jordan Stanley with a Guatemalan woman (photo by Manuel Aldana)
“Be The Change You Want See In The World” – Mahatma Gandhi