Day 0: Wednesday March 17th

For most members of the group, Wednesday was a travel day spent flying from Boston to the Dominican Republic. Our take-off was delayed when the plane’s “check engine” light came on as we reached on the runway, necessitating a trip back to the gate, but the flight was otherwise uneventful. Once in Santo Domingo we found the group buses at the airport, rode over to our hotel, and settled in for an evening of team meetings over dinner.

On the night before the mission begins in earnest tomorrow, excitement is high. After months of anticipation, the group is ready to get started. It’s important to acknowledge, however, the tremendous amount of work that has already taken place to ensure the success of the mission. Those who haven’t previously organized an international surgical mission (myself included) may not appreciate how much planning and preparation are required before the first patient presents to the pre-operative clinic tomorrow morning.

The process of identifying operative candidates began last fall, with our Dominican colleague Dr Luis Alcantara screening potential patients not only for appropriate surgical indications (end-stage arthritis) but also overall health and financial need. Since then there have been several additional screenings by teams of orthopaedic surgeons, anesthesiologists and others to optimize patient selection.

Considerable effort has also been spent procuring orthopaedic implants and medications, many of which have been supplied at no cost by generous donors. A wide variety of team members have been recruited, including surgeons, nurses, therapists, OR personnel and pharmacists, to name but a few.

Tomorrow, the team looks forward to meeting all prospective patients in the pre-operative clinic, and beginning with the first round of surgeries.

This blog will be updated daily during our weeklong trip, so be sure to check back often to stay current!