Forging Deep Connections

Written by Lindsay Doucette

At Solidarity Bridge, our mission trips are about more than simply providing a service. We strive to work in a spirit of solidarity, forging deep connections with our partners and patients. This commitment has been on display in the first days of our neurosurgery mission trip.

Our team this week is blessed by three veteran missioners: Dr. Art DiPatri (eight previous trips), Dr. John Weaver (nine previous trips), and Atlas Medical representative Zack Kaufman (five previous trips). Arriving at their host hospitals on Monday, they were each warmly greeted with smiles and hugs from their longtime neurosurgical colleagues. It’s very special to see these reunions, celebrating friendships that have developed over the past ten years of partnership.

Dr. Art DiPatri and patient Sara Lucia

Due to travel and time constraints, it’s often more difficult to build lasting relationships with our patients. Missioners have limited availability to make home visits, and returning to the city can be a burden for patients and their families. However, this week, Puente de Solidaridad social worker Carmen Salses made one such special reunion possible. On Monday afternoon, our team loaded up into a van and drove out to the small town of Montero to visit Sara Lucia, a patient from our March 2018 neurosurgery mission trip.

Sarah Lucia, or Sarita, as her family calls her, was only eight months old when she underwent surgery to remove a lipoma from her spine. After what had seemed like a normal, healthy pregnancy, her parents had been distressed to learn, two days after Sarita was born, that she had a lumbosacral lipoma, a congenital defect on her spine. Without surgery, it could cause progressive neurological deficits later in her life. During our last mission trip, Dr. DiPatri and his partner Dr. Puch from the Santa Cruz Children’s Hospital performed the operation together.

On this trip, Sarita’s family invited our team into their home with a warm welcome for all. Dr. DiPatri shared in the family’s joy at seeing their daughter recovered from surgery and doing well. “It’s rare to have the opportunity to follow up with mission patients,” he said. “It was very special to to reconnect with this family and to see how Sarita is doing several months after surgery.”

As we returned to Santa Cruz that evening, our patients for this week returned to our minds. We pray that the outcomes will be similarly positive for our patients Bladimir, Humberto, Emilia, Piero, and Randy.

Our mission team at the home of a previous patient, little Sara Lucia