In June of 2008, Dr. Pazmiño traveled to the Sacred Valley of the Incas to perform reconstructive plastic surgery in the small town of Coya, Peru.
The surgeries were performed at the Kausay Wasi Clinic. This clinic is a wonderful non-governmental non-denominational project founded by Guido and Sandy del Prado. They established the clinic to provide medical care to the inhabitants of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a rural, mountainous region that is approximately 11,000 feet above sea level (more than TWICE the elevation of Denver, the mile high city!) Because of its high elevation and the limited access to electricity in homes, the people of the Valley depend on fireplaces and other incendiary devices to keep warm. Unfortunately, this often leads to accidental burns, especially among children. The 60,000 people who live in the Sacred Valley of the Incas have limited access to primary health care. Most families do not have access to potable water, and dysentery and diarrhea are prevalent throughout the area. Due to the rough, mountainous geography and the poor condition of roads, there are many automobile accidents. Morbidity and mortality rates are amongst the highest in Peru.
The people of the Sacred Valley of the Incas are the proud descendants of the Incas- master stoneworkers and craftsmen who created Cusco and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu.
Project Peru is a team of plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and support staff based in Miami, Florida. Team members traveled to Coya, Peru to perform reconstructive plastic surgery for the people of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Although bilingual in Spanish, the Miami-based team still needed help talking to the Inca patients as many of them only spoke Quechua- the ancient language of the Incas.
Plastic surgeons operate all over the body and can treat a great variety of conditions. Plastic surgeons are only limited by their resourcefulness and their imagination. Over the course of one week, Dr. Pazmiño and the Project Peru team performed reconstructive surgery on tumors, burn scars, traumatic defects, scar contractures, and congenital birth defects such as microtia (a condition where a person is born without one or both ears). These conditions can severely interfere with the activities of daily living. Aside from the physical limitations, these conditions also affect a person’s self-esteem and acceptance within society. Correcting these defects through plastic surgery helped to greatly improve the quality of life of these patients.
The Project Peru team evaluated over 80 patients from the Sacred Valley and performed approximately 50 surgeries and procedures in 5 days. This was only possible due to the commitment, talent and incredible efforts of the Kausay Wasi Clinic and the Project Peru team of anesthesiologists, pre-operative nurses, recovery nurses, OR scrub nurses and technicians, OR circulating nurses, and OR support staff.
The Project Peru team traveled to Peru happy that we would be able to provide the gift of increased function and an improved quality of life to the people of the Valley. By the end of the week, the team realized that, in fact, we were the ones who had received the gift.
The entire team was touched by the strength of character, the gratitude, and the dignity of the people of Peru. Our Inca patients also reminded us of why we had entered the field of medicine in the first place- to learn a skill that could make a positive change in the life of another person.
To the people of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Project Peru team…