Esperança

Hernia Surgery Gives Alberto a New Lease on Life in Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, there is no retirement for the general population. Family members, regardless or age or gender, contribute to the daily housework, which generally consists of fetching water, tending crops, and caring for a few animals.

Alberto Gonzalez is 69 years old, a widowed father of six, still doing what it takes daily just to survive, all while maintaining his farm in the small town of La Dalia.

Still feeling very young at heart, Alberto never minded his daily routine, working from early in the morning to after dark, tending his crops and performing household chores. It gave him purpose and a sense of accomplishment.

While hauling water one day, he began to feel a discomfort in his lower abdomen… Thinking it was age catching up with this routine manual labor, Alberto didn’t give it much thought. But then a few days went by, a few weeks, and eventually, five long years. The pain intensified until every movement-bending to pick his lettuce or even sitting for long periods of time-became excruciating. There were no medical professionals in the area to turn to, and if there were, Alberto was unable to afford any procedures or medications.

So for five years the pain intensified, and his abdomen began to swell.

Nonetheless, Alberto persisted, performing his daily tasks. How could he stop? Alberto lives day-to-day, and even a sacrifice of 24-hours could mean the difference between life and death. But beyond that, Alberto was frustrated…

“I felt that I could still contribute in some light work in the house or fields, and the limitation had me a little overwhelmed.”

Little did Alberto know…a mission team, one of Esperança’s first in collaboration with local volunteer medical professionals, led by Esperança Board member, Dr. Feuerstein, was on its way to the hospital in La Dalia, ready for a week of providing free surgeries to the local community.

Through a local radio campaign, Alberto’s son learned of the mission and immediately made arrangements for his father’s work to be covered so that he could be at the hospital when the team arrived.

As Dr. Feurstein’s second patient of the pre-screening day, Alberto was discovered to be suffering from an enlarged hernia at the bottom of his intestines, which are known to lead to life-threatening complications if not removed.

The team admitted Alberto on a Saturday, performed the operation the very next day, and discharged him on Monday with the necessary recommendations for respective post-surgical care.

After five long years, in less 48-hours, Alberto became pain and worry free.

“I have been treated in a unique way during the time I have been admitted, during my time in the operating room. The truth is that I am extremely grateful for the attention received and for helping me with this problem that had me very discouraged. God bless all the people who are involved in this and hopefully they can continue making more brigades like this one, to help more people and even more those in need.”

Alberto returned for an external surgery consultation two weeks after the operation, and was found to be in perfect health, happy to be on the road to recovery.

Elena Burr