The first annual medical mission trip to Nicaragua took place in February of 2000 under the name of Alabama Medical Team with a group of 30 (14 doctors and 16 support personnel). This marked the beginning of our 16th annual missions accomplished up-to-date (2016).
The medical missions are done in the first week of February every year. At this point we count with about one hundred volunteers on each trip; volunteers come from different parts of USA and sometimes from Europe, South or Central America. Typically we have a group of 25 to 30 doctors of different specialties and a support force of 50 to 70 persons who are technicians, nurses or non-medical personnel. Volunteers are recommended or invited by active members of our organization. All volunteers pay for their own expenses.
Ophthalmology: We operate at two hospitals; in Granada we perform cataracts, corneal transplants and strabismus surgeries. In Managua at the National Center of Ophthalmology retina surgery is performed; detachments, vitreous hemorrhage, traumas and other conditions that affect patients with diabetes. With these surgeries patients are able to regain their sight.
In the last sixteen years our surgeons have performed over 800 cataracts, 350 corneal transplants, 300 strabismus and 450 (vitrectomies) retina surgeries, also hundreds of laser surgeries and Avastin injections to prevent bleeding inside the eyes.
To perform those surgeries throughout the years we have donated four Zeiss OPMI-6 surgical microscopes plus numerous pieces of diagnostic or surgical equipment to update the CENAO-National Center of Ophthalmology.
Electrophysiology-Cardiology of Arrhythmias: Since the 2000 our cardiologists have implanted over 400 pacemakers or ICD-defibrillators. We operate at the Military Hospital and in the last five years also at Salud Integral Hospital, both in Managua, where we have done over 250 electrophysiology studies and ablations of arrhythmias with excellent results. Our cardiologists use these trips to share their knowledge and techniques with the local cardiologist.
The material, devices, catheters and equipment used for these treatments are very expensive and are donated by companies like Medtronic, St. Jude, Biosense and others to whom we are very grateful.
Dental Services: Every year they perform between 100 to 150 minor dental surgeries, extractions, fillings etc. They work at the dental clinic of Hospital Amistad in Granada and sometimes they also work at the Clinica “El Capullo” of Cristo Sana.
Gastroenterology: This service is mainly endoscopic upper and lower procedures, also esophageal varices banding to stop gastrointestinal hemorrhages. The equipment (tower) was originally donated to the hospital. Every year our doctors perform about 30 endoscopic procedures and treat 10 to 15 GI bleedings. The week of the mission is used for teaching and sharing of knowledge with the local physicians.
Through the kind collaboration of IMS and our friend Bill Phillips, every year we bring back to USA two or three scopes for very expensive repairs. Sometimes when non repairable they are replaced –at no cost to FOR- nor to the Hospital Amistad Japon-Nicaragua.
Pediatrics: We love to take care of children; our pediatricians have annually seen up to 600 children with different illness.