Partner for Surgery is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, incorporated in May, 2001 with the following mission:

To connect patients in need of surgical care in remote communities with the international volunteer triage and surgical teams that traveled to Guatemala, and to educate and empower rural Guatemalans to initiate and advocate for vital health care services on their own behalf.

We work closely with our Guatemalan based counterpart, Asociación Compañero Para Cirugía, to change the lives of some of the world’s most forgotten people.


Partner for Surgery originated when Todd Peterson, a Peace Corps volunteer in the most remote areas of Guatemala, realized the need for surgical care but found that many of the villagers:

  • lacked experience with medical care;
  • feared health centers and hospitals;
  • experienced discrimination because they were indigenous and poor;
  • were unaware of opportunities available to them;
  • lacked the financial resources to pay medical bills;
  • lacked access to transportation (many had never left their communities);
  • spoke only their Mayan language and didn’t understand the Spanish spoken in hospitals.

Troubled by the number of disabled villagers, Todd investigated several local hospitals in search of one that would treat poor Guatemalans. He eventually discovered a hospital in Antigua where a handful of patients received surgical care and were freed from their former disabilities.

When Todd’s father Frank came to visit, he noticed a lack of infrastructure between Guatemala’s rural communities and the volunteer medical and surgical teams that were already traveling to the country to help. Soon after, Frank retired and co-founded Partner for Surgery on the premise that good health is a prerequisite for equitable economic development.

See us in action