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Guatemalan mission: UCLA Health surgical team provides life-changing care



UCLA CTSI News Archive

Courtesy of Brianna Ortals, CRNA

A multidisciplinary medical team comprised of members of the Department of Surgery and Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, led by Dr. Reza Jarrahy, performs a procedure on a patient in the Guatemalan village of Nuevo Progreso.

The 1-year-old girl had fallen into the family’s fire pit in a tiny Guatemalan village, severely burning her jaw, neck and upper chest. As the skin healed, it fused together, leaving her neck completely immobile and her mouth barely able to open an inch. At age 12, she finally received surgery and skin grafts that would allow her to move her neck for the first time in more than a decade.

The 19-year-old young man had spent his entire life with a birth defect most children in the United States have repaired when they’re 3 months old. His cleft lip and cleft palate was so extreme, doctors wondered how he’d been able to eat or speak. He received life-changing surgery to restore his mouth’s function and appearance.

These were just two of the more than 50 procedures a multidisciplinary team of UCLA Health surgeons, doctors and nurses completed during a week of service in the Guatemalan village of Nuevo Progreso, a remote area a seven-hour winding bus ride from Guatemala City.

“It’s really health care delivery in its most pure form and its most simplistic form,” says Reza Jarrahy, MD, a pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon.

Read the full press release.

As a CTSI researcher, Dr. Jarrahy received a CTSI Transdisciplinary Seed Grant in 2013 and was a co-investigator for a CTSI Catalyst Award in 2014.