Boston Doctors Are Providing Medical Care in Nicaragua
I knew it was going to be a bad tumor even before I put the slide on the microscope, due to the blue color of the tissue. But I also knew that this was no ordinary case. As the cells came into focus, a diagnosis of sarcoma came to mind, but my work was just beginning. This was foreign pathology, and unlike anything I see on a regular basis. The sample I was looking at traveled thousands of miles before landing on my microscope.
When 14-year-old Marisol came to the clinic in Siuna, Nicaragua, because of a tumor on her ankle, it was because her family heard that an American doctor would be there seeing patients. They made the almost 10 hour trek in the hopes that she could be seen. Tereza, 37, also made the trip, to have her wrist tumor evaluated.
They came to see Dr. Henry DeGroot, who made the 4,000-mile journey from Newton to see Marisol, Tereza, and 54 other patients. DeGroot, an orthopedic surgeon at Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH), has been making this trek for several years. Why Nicaragua? They need doctors like him. For the average citizen, access to non-emergency orthopedic care is nonexistent. Treatment for many congenital deformities and chronic conditions is not available in the public system. As a specialist in foot and ankle orthopedic problems, DeGroot’s skills are extremely important where 70 percent of the population is under 30 years of age. The complex reconstructive surgeries he performs are guaranteed to have a lasting effect.
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