Reporting from Hospital Gastroenterológico

Blog Author: Kira Here in the center of Cochabamba, we work with the Hospital Gastroenterológico, or Gastro for short, a local public hospital that serves some of the poorest people in the region. One of the people served today was Carisol. She is 40 years old and has spent the past six months navigating a variety of complicated health problems.

Image of Dr. Mike Fischer, Gastroenterologist, & Carisol, Bolivian patient

In November, Carisol began having trouble swallowing and rapidly lost wait due to nearly continuous nausea and vomiting and her complete inability to eat. When she went to the doctor, they told her she had achalasia, a muscle disorder of the esophagus. She was treated with esophageal dilation but the procedure ended very poorly, with a tear in her esophagus which required emergency surgery. During the surgery to repair her esophagus, the doctors found that she did not have achalasia, but rather very advanced, inoperable esophageal cancer. They repaired her esophagus and told her the bad news. Carisol‘s cancer was terminal. Additionally, because of the size of the tumor and its location in her esophagus, Carisol would spend the rest of her life consuming liquid nutrition through a tube that the surgeons inserted into her stomach.

Our Gastroenterologist, Dr. Mike Fischer, saw Carisol today. She had spent four months with very poor quality of life, being fed through a tube which she found both annoying and painful. Carisol arrived at the Gastro holding in her hand the metal stent that she had been told might allow her to eat solid food again after having very little quality of life for almost half a year. She was seeking a chance to spend what remained of her time eating normally and enjoying her family.

Image of Dr. Mike Fischer, Gastroenterologist, & Bolivian partners

Working with two of the Bolivian doctors at the Gastro, Dr. Fischer inserted a metal stent into Carisol’s esophagus, which will allow food to pass into her stomach. As a result, she can eat again as early as tomorrow morning! So intense was her dislike of the feeding tube that she requested its immediate removal, but all of the doctors agreed that she should leave it in for a short while longer as she readjusts to eating again through her newly-cleared digestive tract.

Though Carisol´s condition is ultimately terminal, her whole outlook has been transformed by this procedure which was entirely unavailable to her until our team arrived. Thank you, Dr. Fischer, for changing the life of this entire family and for your willingness to bring your big heart and extensive skills to Bolivia!