Taking Care

Inspired to Heal in Guatemala

2 Minute Read
In the Western Highlands of Guatemala, in a small town tucked away among tall, jagged mountains and a cool gray sky, 16-year-old Maria never gave up hope.
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Maria's home in Q’anjob’al, Guatemala. Most of the Guatemalan population lives in poverty, with many struggling to meet even basic needs.
Born in a Mayan community called Q’anjob’al, Maria lived with a pronounced facial deformity since birth, caused by a nasal encephalocele, a neural tube defect that occurs during fetal development. Access to corrective surgery of this kind is unheard of for people in her small village and Guatemala as a whole. Most of the country’s population lives in poverty, many struggling to meet even basic needs. 

Last fall the stars aligned for Maria to become introduced to World Pediatric Project. Kansas City-based craniofacial surgeon Dr. Brian Andrews met Maria nearly ten years before through a medical trip not affiliated with WPP and without access to a medical facility properly equipped for complex surgeries. He always hoped someday he would have the opportunity to perform the surgery Maria desperately needed.
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Maria when she met WPP in October, 2018.
Recently World Pediatric Project expanded its programs to include craniofacial surgery in Guatemala. In a large country such as Guatemala, WPP carefully builds effective indigenous partnerships based on patient needs and willingness of the local medical professionals to be involved and further their training. For nearly 15 years prior, WPP focused its pediatric advanced medical care outreach in the subspecialties of ophthalmology, orthopedics, and neurosurgery.

Now, with the needed in-country partnerships established, WPP reached out to Dr. Andrews to assist in the launch of WPP’s first craniofacial surgery program in Central America. He in turn knew Maria should become one of his first WPP patients!  
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Maria in March, 2019 during a follow up visit after her first surgery.
Last October, World Pediatric Project mobilized its first craniofacial team to Guatemala. Maria embarked on the 48-hour journey from her home to Guatemala City for the surgery she’d been waiting for all her life! She was one of 24 children receiving diagnostic or surgical care that week.

“I am thankful to WPP for the opportunity to help Maria,” remarked Dr. Andrews. “Today, Maria is excited to explore all the possibilities life has to offer because she no longer suffers from the social stigma which had so limited her life up until this point.”
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Dr. Brian Andrews first met 7-year-old Juan and his mother during clinic. Juan had surgery to relieve pressure caused by a nasal encephalocele. WPP medical teams will follow up with him each year to continue his care as needed.
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WPP's Impact In Guatemala
For 2002-2018

54 Children Have Traveled to the United States for Care

Surgical services have included Neurosurgery, Craniofacial, Orthopedic, Plastic Surgery and more

43 Surgical and Diagnostic Teams have Visited Guatemala

Three WPP volunteer medical teams are scheduled to travel to Guatemala this year, reaching more than 100 children in need of care.

1,325 Total Children Have Been Reached by WPP Medical Teams