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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A violent attack in the Caribbean left a teenage girl unable to walk. But thanks to doctors in St. Louis, that young victim is once again on her feet.
On November 4, 2016, Perla Sosa was shot in the Dominican Republic by an 18-year-old man after she said no when he asked her on a date. The bullet went into her abdomen and perforated her small bowel and liver. She still has shrapnel in her spine. Sosa was completely paralyzed from waist down.
A group of traveling surgeons and nurses from St. Louis heard Sosa’s story while on a trip to the Caribbean and knew they had to get her to St. Louis.
“For someone like her to receive rehab on a regular basis they cannot afford it and the government does not provide subsidies for people like her,” said Dr. Madeline Stazzone, Pediatric Orthopedic Project.
Sosa arrived in St. Louis last month and has already made incredible progress in what’s been a collaborative effort. In addition to the Pediatric Orthopedic Project, she’s received help from Mercy Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House, and the World Pediatric Project, which provides translators and transportation.
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- 10 free successful surgeries for children by our team. This time two cases were scoliosis and the others were a variety of orthopedic problems ranging from trauma to several different deformities. This marks the first mission focused on a variety of orthopedic problems, not just scoliosis. All patients did well.
- Two additional nurses were trained in postoperative care of the scoliosis patient. They received a certificate and have been given the task to pass on there knowledge to 2 additional nurses so that there could be continuity.
- Multiple POP team members participated in painting the walls of one of the rooms in the orthopedic ward. It was a true transformation.
- We visited our beloved Lisbeth Garcia in her home. Lisbeth has been thriving since her surgery in St. Louis. She is working on perfecting her English so that she can one day come to the United States to study. She wants to be a pediatrician!
- We also visited Yonalfrin Diaz in his home. He the next patient coming to St. Louis for corrective surgery for his severe scoliosis. He has a condition called Neurofibromatosis I. It always amazes us to see how these patients live day to day.
- We also visited Omar, a child we cerebral palsy that we have been sponsoring for the last 2 years. They live in a remote area in the mountains. The mom cooked dinner for all of our team in appreciation!
- Our President, Dr. Madelyn Stazzone gave a lecture about POP to over 200 nurses at the Universidad Nacional Evangélica.
- As always, each of our patients received a stuffed Teddy bear wearing a POP logo t-shirt.
Our challenges for the week:
- The operating rooms are still being renovated and the hospital is running on just two rooms. The director of the (Hospital) graciously granted us one room during the week of the mission. Thank you Dr. Rosa Morel!
- Due to the heavy rains in October and November, there had been flooding all through the island. In addition, the roofs were leaking throughout the hospital. The original room that was going to be used for as an ICU for our more complex patients had to be switched because of a leak. We had some leaking in the recovery area for our less complex children as well but it was contained.
Below are a few images of our trip:
Town & Style St. Louis
July 22, 2016
The water isn’t clean, the equipment is old, there are no sheets or pillows on the beds. Hardly ideal conditions for a hospital, especially one where children need delicate and dangerous spine surgery. “It’s like going back 100 years,” says Dr. Madelyn Stazzone about pediatric treatment for the poor in the Dominican Republic. Stazzone is president and executive director of Pediatric Orthopedic Project (POP), which treats scoliosis (spine curvature) and other orthopedic problems in children in the Caribbean. Scoliosis is correctable, but in extreme form, it can cause death due to impaired lung and heart function. Although precise figures for how many are affected aren’t known, the need in this small nation is great since the gene pool is smaller on an island, Stazzone explains, so genetic predisposition may be amplified.