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Covid Didn’t Stop Us!

By Stories

First, there is good news about Kevin (pictured above), a child featured in a previous newsletter. He was scheduled for surgery with the March 2020 Smiles for Guatemala team – the last team allowed before COVID locked down the country. However, in addition to Kevin’s mother losing her sight, the father without work transportation and two hurricanes flooding their village, Kevin became sick and missed his surgery date. Throughout all of this misery our health promoter, Zoila, traveled six hours to get to Kevin’s village with formula and basic food for the family. And, in February four Guatemalan plastic surgeons agreed to volunteer a few days each month and in March Kevin got his lip repaired.

These Guatemalan teams have now completed 68 cleft lip and 33 cleft palate surgeries and in July plan to provide additional 45 children with cleft repairs. Every child and the accompanying parent were COVID tested prior to surgery and fortunately all results were negative. And we also know from our post-operative follow up in patient homes, none contracted COVID during their trip to the hospital. As appreciative as we are for these volunteer surgeons, our cost is more than three times what it is typical for an international team.

However, change is on the way and international teams are beginning to return! Medical Mission for Children will complete the reconstruction of 23 incompletely formed ears by early July and our first general and gynecology surgical team will begin mid-August. More good news is that we are expecting a Hernia surgery team to arrive in September, the George Washington Hospital team in November and a December team from Los Angeles with an emphasis on head and neck procedures.

In Loving Memory of Linda Peterson

By News

On July 3rd, Linda Peterson, one of Partner for Surgery’s founding members and most passionate volunteers, passed away following a sudden illness. She died peacefully, surrounded by her family.

Although we will miss her dearly and always, the sadness is no match for the loving, happy memories she has left behind.

Without Linda, there would be no Partner for Surgery. Not only did she encourage her husband, Frank to take early retirement to start Partner for Surgery, but she was instrumental in launching the organization and has been one its most active and effective volunteers over the last 20 years. Whatever it took, from triage on medical missions to fundraising to writing newsletters, she was there to make sure the work continued. Because of her, over 16,000 of Guatemala’s most impoverished people have received life-changing surgery through Partner for Surgery.

Please join us for a Celebration of Life Service for Linda on Saturday, July 24th, at 11am EDT.  The service will be held at the Redeemer Lutheran Church at 1545 Chain Bridge Rd, McLean, VA 22101. If you would like to attend virtually, please use the following link:

Linda dedicated a large part of the last 20 years of her life to Partner for Surgery.  In lieu of flowers, if you would like to make a donation to Partner for Surgery in her memory, please go to:

On behalf of Linda, thank you all for supporting Partner for Surgery’s mission.

Good News to Share From Guatemala!

By Stories
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year ago, volunteer teams have been unable to travel to Guatemala. In the interim, over 100 new patients were added to the Cleft Infant Nutrition program, which was already bursting at the seams. A drastically reduced staff needed support and hundreds of other waiting patients had to have contact maintained. Things looked pretty bleak. We wondered how Partner for Surgery would survive. Read More

Photos Show Devastation in Guatemala After Hurricanes Eta and Iota

By Stories

In addition to struggles resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Guatemala suffered the effects of two back-to-back hurricanes in late 2020. COVID took so much from rural Guatemalans this year, and Hurricanes Eta and Iota took what was left. Crops and livelihoods were destroyed. Homes were lost. Below is a collection of photos from our In-Country Coordinator, Liset Olivet.

Partner for Surgery 2020: Statistics & Updates

By Stories

2020 was certainly an unprecedented year. In the first 10 weeks of the year, we were able to perform 218 surgeries and identify 488 rural patients for surgery. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, no teams have been able to go to Guatemala since the last one left in mid-March. After that point, the remaining 18 surgical teams scheduled for 2020 were rescheduled for 2021 and our focus shifted to sustaining the growing Cleft Infant Nutrition Program. The CINP currently serves 219 families and includes education on and prevention of COVID-19. Additionally, we are also supporting 100 families with basic food needs following Hurricane Eta, as mentioned in the previous story on Yesica Choc’s family. ❖

Health Promoters Provide Critical Assistance After Hurricanes

By Stories
Like so many of you, this holiday season we are grateful for the many blessings we have received, and we look forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

For many in rural Guatemala, however, this year has been even more devastating than the impacts caused by the coronavirus alone. This year’s challenges have been compounded by the catastrophic rains, floods and landslides from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, resulting in lost crops and lives, as well as 391,850 damaged homes. More than 300,000 people are currently living in temporary shelters. Starvation has become a reality for many in the rural communities we serve. 40% of the 218 families with children in our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program are now in dire need of food. Therefore, in addition to providing life-saving baby formula and health monitoring, we have stepped in to provide 100 families with basic food for survival.

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