On A Mission: Pitching In To Help Children Abroad

On A Mission: Pitching In To Help Children Abroad



Sancak Yuksel, MD

Last February, pediatric otolaryngologist Sancak Yuksel, MD , joined a team of otolaryngologists, nurses, audiologists and speech pathologists supported by Oklahoma-based Mayflower Medical Outreach (MMO), and traveled to the mountain towns of Jinotega and Esteli, Nicaragua, to see pediatric patients and perform surgeries. The group, which visits every year, makes the trip in conjunction with a broader effort that includes construction of facilities and physician training. Team members work with dedicated Nicaraguan otolaryngologists who provide year-round services at Victoria Motta Hospital in Jinotega and help triage consults and surgeries prior to MMO’s annual visit. The eight-day experience was Dr. Yuksel’s first mission trip.

“The mission opened my eyes to the needs of children in Nicaragua,” says Dr. Yuksel, who practices at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and is an associate professor of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School. “I came to the U.S. from Turkey, which has less wealth than the United States, but the lack of supplies and access to healthcare services in Nicaragua was a completely new experience for me.”

Dr. Yuksel and the MMO team, which included three surgeons and other volunteers, evaluated 93 patients from across the country in a single day, and performed 25 complex ear surgeries in the city of Esteli, operating under very limited conditions.

“Performing these surgeries would not have been possible without the efforts of other volunteers, including a nurse anesthetist, a scrub nurse, a medical student, a college graduate planning to go to medical school and a physician planning to match an otolaryngology residency,” says Dr. Yuksel. “Because there were supply shortages, we brought in our own operating microscopes, ear prostheses and suture materials. Working in Nicaragua with healthcare professionals from around the U.S. was an amazing experience. I’ll definitely do it again.”

Story originally published first: https://med.uth.edu/orl/newsletter/orl-progress-notes/on-a-mission-pitching-in-to-help-children-abroad/