November 14, 2008
“Children of the Americas” (COTA) is an all volunteer program that provides free medical and surgical treatment to indigent children in Guatemala. COTA operates entirely on donations and depends on specialists from the United States who donate their time and expertise to treat these children’s complex cases. The children who receive treatment through COTA come from small, impoverished towns throughout rural Guatemala and would be unable to afford treatment for their conditions without the intervention of COTA and the kindness of strangers who volunteer their time and skills. Dr. Wayne Colin, Lexington Clinic Otolaryngologist, recently partnered with COTA and donated his time and talent to help a young man named Angel.
Angel, age 17, was in desperate need of facial reconstruction after a carjacking three years ago left him with a devastating gun shot wound to the face. As his father tried to drive away, Angel was hit with a shotgun blast in the jaw. At the time, Angel was hospitalized and his jaw was wired shut in an effort to heal his injuries. After his hospitalization, Angel’s jaw did not heal and remained broken. For three years he was limited to liquids and pureed foods. He also suffered from gum infections as a result of imbedded wires that were left in his jaw and severe tooth decay due to an inability to practice proper dental hygiene as a result of his injuries. Angel’s rural family has tried for three years to save money for reconstructive surgery, but on a monthly salary of $25 they would never have been able to do so.
Due to the complexity of Angel’s case, which required a bone graft and several days in ICU, he was granted permission to be treated in the United States. Dr. Wayne Colin was contacted by the local COTA program coordinator and agreed to accept the case. COTA is not new to Dr. Colin; this is the second time he has assisted the Children of the Americas Program, previously repairing a mandibular jaw deformity (birth defect) on Christian, a 17-year-old, also from Guatemala. Verla Oakes, ENT Department/Surgical Coordinator was instrumental in making all of the necessary arrangements for both procedures and navigating the complex immigration laws. Also assisting Dr. Colin with this procedure was Lexington Clinic’s Radiology Department, providing pre-op x-rays at no charge, Anesthesia Associates, PSC and Saint Joseph Hospital which agreed to donate an OR suite and hospital stay expenses.
Angel’s procedure lasted a grueling 7 hours. The procedure was successful and it has been over a month now since Angel’s surgery and return home to Guatemala. With his injuries repaired he is finally able to heal physically and emotionally from his ordeal. Angel will now be able to enjoy a more normal lifestyle. The COTA local program director, Jody Greenlee, RN, had this to say:
“As a spouse of a surgeon, I know of the issues with healthcare financial reimbursements and office expenses that all of you face. This makes your donation of care even more phenomenal since you were doing such a complex and delicate surgery…I can’t thank you enough. You are a kind and caring surgeon and if the community had more like you, we would be able to accomplish major things for those with no healthcare access.” Congratulations to Dr. Colin and his staff on a job well done. The kindness and compassion you demonstrated will be greatly appreciated for years to come.