Posted By: Alyson Landry on September 26, 2011

Labels: Costa Rica, El Salvador , Volunteers

Earlier this summer, 21 Project HOPE volunteers provided medical care and health education in Costa Rica. Read their stories.

At 7:30 a.m., seasoned Project HOPE volunteer, Dr. Scott Leckman, a General Surgeon, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was suited up for his first of six surgeries for the day.

“He was masterful,” says Dr. Jacklic, lead naval general surgeon on Continuing Promise 2011, who assisted Dr. Leckman in a complicated gall bladder removal on a 32-year-old woman. 

According to Leckman, the gall bladder was stuck to the stomach wall, so he had to peel it away before even beginning to remove it. About an hour later he removed a rock-hard gall bladder with a stone inside the size of a hazelnut. 

The whole procedure was done through three minimal incisions.  The microscopic camera fed into the belly button and illuminated two screens in the operating room, which Jacklic maneuvered. 

On the ship Leckman treats a variety of surgical cases. He operates on about six patients per day for the duration of each country. In Costa Rica, he also had the opportunity to work with some in-country surgeons. 

Directly after the gall bladder surgery, Leckman walks down to check up on his patients in the ward room, where some patients spend the night recovering. His patients from the previous day were a mother and daughter, both getting their gall bladders removed. He gently stoops down to their bunk, checks the incisions and makes sure the patients cracked at least one smile. 

The level of care given by Leckman is sometimes given back in surprising and grateful ways. 

“Before I thought I was dead, and now I feel resurrected,” said an El Salvadorian patient to Leckman after surgery. She received an incisional hernia repair operation.

More Alyson Landry Photos from the USNS Comfort Operating Room and Recovery

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