Page 32

30-35-JOURNEYS-LaPaz-516_Layout 1 4/7/16 2:13 PM Page 30

global GIVING

dr. james hammel leads an omaha team from children's hospital & medical center on medical mission trips to mexico to repair heart defects in children

THE peninsula MEXICAN STATE OF BAJA SUR CALIFORNIA IS A TOURIST DRAW FOR ITS OCEANFRONT BEACHES AND VISTAS. BUT ISOLATION FROM THE MEXICAN MAINLAND MAKES IT HARD FOR RESIDENTS TO ACCESS SPECIALIZED MEDICAL CARE . Poor residents lack the means to travel, much less afford treatment. A lack of pediatric heart services results in many congenital defects going unevaluated and undiagnosed. Consequently, many children die before getting an opportunity to be treated. To bridge that care gap, Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. James Hammel twice a year leads a medical mission trip to the southern city of La Paz in that Mexican state. He and his all- Children’s Hospital & Medical Center team were there in November and they’re back again this April. Before starting the La Paz trips four years ago, Hammel was a veteran of medical missions to Honduras and Nicaragua. His work in Mexico grew out of a collaborative with a Sioux Falls, SD, health center that received pediatric cancer patients from Big Sur through the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation based on the peninsula. Foundation founder Tom Walsh is from South Dakota. Children sent to Sioux Falls who presented heart problems then came to Omaha for treatment. When a boy named Mario died before ever making it to a Children’s operating room, Hammel resolved to provide care in Southern Baja in order to circumvent the delays that result in such needless tragedy. “It was obvious to me he’d been turned away again and again and again,” Hammel says. “His mother was very sweet and she had taken him repeatedly across to the mainland and sort of begged for surgery from one of the centers there. But they just couldn’t get it. That case firmly cemented my commitment to this charitable foundation and when the opportunity did arise to work down there, that seemed like a lot better option than bringing people up. “Bringing kids up is very expensive, cumbersome, difficult. It takes a long time and it’s only possible to do in very small numbers. I thought, ‘Well, for the same amount of money we could treat a dozen children there by bringing our team down.’” 30

mQUARTERLY • MAY/JUN/JUL 2016

Profile for metroMAGAZINE

metroMAGAZINE’s mQUARTERLY Summer (MAY/JUN/JUL) 2016 Issue  

mQUARTERLY’S Summer 2016 Issue is online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the Omaha/Lincoln...

metroMAGAZINE’s mQUARTERLY Summer (MAY/JUN/JUL) 2016 Issue  

mQUARTERLY’S Summer 2016 Issue is online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the Omaha/Lincoln...

Profile for metmago