September 12, 2023
The Visionary Foundation and Alberto Martinez, MD, carried out a successful surgical mission from August 10th, 2023, to August 14th, 2023, at “Fundación de Servicios Médicos Voluntarios” (FSMV) Hospital Leonardo Martinez, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The local charity FSMV, led by Dr. Marcos Fajardo, saw and pre-screened patients through a series of exams with the help of other providers. On the first day of the mission, Dr. Martinez saw 36 patients to make the difficult decision of which cornea would go to which transplantee.
This year, Dr. Edgar Maldonado, who is still learning from Dr. Martinez, was more involved in the transplants. After each penetrating keratoplasty (complete corneal transplant), Dr. Martinez placed eight sutures to hold the cornea in place, and Dr. Maldonado assisted with the completion of the suturing. This efficient process saved an enormous amount of time, allowing many more surgeries to be completed – more than any previous mission.
With more corneal tissue, transplants had to be split amongst three days. On August 11th, seven Penetrating Keratoplasties, PKs, and five endothelial transplants, DSAEKs, were completed, for a total of 11 cases. Three PKs and one DSAEK were completed on the second day, and on the final day, one DSAEK was completed. A total of 24 cataract surgeries were performed between Dr. Martinez, Dr. Fajardo, and Dr. Dayana Urbina. With this level of teamwork, more patients could be seen and treated, as two surgeons were operating at all times.
Overall, 43 cataract extractions, 17 corneal transplants, and five complex triple procedures that consisted of a complete corneal transplant, “open-sky” cataract extraction, and scleral fixated intraocular lens were successfully performed. Overall, it was a record-breaking mission, with the most corneal transplants and cataract surgeries performed during a single mission by the Visionary Foundation.
On the mission’s second day, two notable surgeries occurred when an 8-year-old boy needed a penetrating keratoplasty (complete corneal transplant). The surgery went smoothly as he was under general anesthesia, and the results were successful as he continues to be monitored by Dr. Maldonado. Another impressive case was one of a 14-year-old boy who traveled from the United States. Previously, cataract surgery in his other eye was complicated and caused permanent damage. A risky, congenital, posterior polar cataract surgery was done under general anesthesia. Fortunately, the surgery went well, and the patients are doing nicely. Dr. Martinez is following him up back in the United States.
Things to improve for the coming year are:
- The quality of instruments that we bring. Before taking them on the trip, they will need to be examined to determine if they need to be replaced before departure.
- Preparing paperwork before arriving at customs. Compared to previous years, this year, we had a smoother process through customs, but some paperwork can be prepared beforehand to allow for a smoother experience.
- Find funds to obtain a new microscope. The existing scopes are decades old, barely functional, and must be replaced.
- We will work with the corneal banks to provide more corneal tissues. Currently, we have more than 60 patients waiting for corneas, and we are sure that the list of patients will expand. The goal is to complete more corneal transplants during our next mission.
We are thankful to the numerous individuals and organizations that helped us with the success of this mission:
- Cornea Gen Tissue Bank for corneal tissue
- AltruVision A Lions Eye Bank for corneal tissue
- Alcon Laboratories for all surgical consumables
- Nancy Cruz, lead surgical technician and helping with logistics
- The staff (specifically Kevin Smith) and physicians at Palisades Eye Surgery Center who collected donations and donated cataract consumables for the mission.
- Loretta Spence, Scrub Technician and the OR staff at the Washington Hospital Center who faithfully collect consumables throughout the year
- Wife and Son of Dr. Martinez, Anna Pigotti and Matthew Martinez, for help with logistics
Besides helping with logistics, Anna Pigotti and Nancy Cruz, with the Visionary Foundation’s help, donated USD $ 5,000 cash plus school supplies, like notebooks, pencils, and markers, to “Hogar San Jose,” an orphanage directed by Sister Cilia. The 70+ girls of all ages put on a show with dancing and singing as a sign of gratitude.
Once again, thank you for your generous help. You have shone the light into the life of our fellow human beings.
May your contribution become a light of kindness, filling your heart with joy!