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Angel is an adorable and energetic 2-year-old who loves soccer and yearned to run -- an activity that was once significantly impaired by his severe club foot. Today, he is one step closer to the day when instead of watching soccer, he can play the sport with his friends, thanks to a life-changing surgical correction performed by Operation Rainbow.
Since 2005, our Medical Outreach program has supported more than two dozen trips by Operation Rainbow, an organization that performs free orthopedic surgery for children in developing countries worldwide, including this recent trip to San Pedro Sula, Honduras in early 2014.
For many Honduran families like Angel's, even the smallest medical procedure can have a costly impact: Patients must purchase everything they will need during their hospital stay, from bed sheets to syringes and medications.
Determined to improve his health so that he might one day play soccer with his friends, Angel's family spent more than half a day traveling on four different buses so that he could get the free care he needed. Angel's three-hour surgery successfully corrected his club foot, giving him a chance to enjoy everyday childhood activities.
Angel was just one of many patients who received free care by the Operation Rainbow team. Over the course of 10 days, Dr. Taylor Smith and a team of 25 screened more than 400 patients in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and performed 58 orthopedic surgeries for club foot, fractures, congenital deformities, and trauma.
"During our mission in Honduras, we saw hundreds in clinic and tried to schedule as many as possible during the time we had there," said one team member. "Every minute was important and every minute saved meant more patients could be treated."
The Medical Outreach program product donations allowed the team to coagulate bleeding quickly, prevent postsurgical complications, and help surgeons better visualize the repair. The result was greater efficiency, enabling the team to operate on more patients.
The surgical team that helped Angel is just one of nearly 1,000 volunteer medical teams that use donated medicines and supplies from AmeriCares to provide charitable health care in more than 75 countries each year. In 2013, these skilled teams supported by AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program performed more than 40,000 surgical procedures, from simple repairs to the complex surgery that changed Angel's life.