The Harbin Clinic physician said sometimes it takes a trip into a third-world situation to make someone — particularly impressionable 8-year-old triplets — appreciate things they normally take for granted.
Scott, his wife, Jennifer, and triplets Kate, Ryland and Parker went to Siguatepeque, Honduras, on a medical mission the first two weeks of January.
When Scott initially hooked up with World Medical Mission, a subsidiary of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, the agency suggested a trip to Africa.
“We said ‘we’ve got 8-year-olds, let’s look at Central America,’” said Scott.
The Hospital Evangelico in Siguatepeque was founded as a mission facility by Dr. Marion B. McKinney of Tennessee in 1949. It includes a 50-bed hospital, an outpatient facility and a two-room operating suite.
“It was very different than the operating suites here,” Scott said. “The orthopedic supply room looks almost like a hardware store.”
Having little idea about the type of conditions he might encounter, Scott carried seven bags worth of equipment — some obtained through a grant from Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and other items provided by Floyd Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome.
He started off with a patient who had been diagnosed with gastric cancer but could not see a surgeon in the capital city of Tegucigalpa until sometime in April.
“We actually did the first laparoscopic gastrectomy in the history of Honduras, as far as we know,” Scott said.
Since narcotics are more common on the streets than they are in the hospital, Scott said, the patient essentially had his stomach removed and was left with nothing much more than Motrin to help alleviate his pain. He said being able to use the laparoscope reduced the pain considerably.
The next major case involved a nurse who had worked at the hospital for more than 20 years. She had a tumor that required a liver resection, something Scott hadn’t done since his residency at Emory.
With the nurse facing little more than a month to live, and no one in Honduras willing to perform the surgery, Scott somewhat reluctantly agreed. The surgery was a success and the nurse was able to sit up the next day, even though she had a massive incision and no narcotics for the pain.
A third case involved a 3-year-old child with a 10-pound tumor in his belly.
“He went home on his fourth birthday, which was my last day at the hospital,” Scott said.
While Scott was doing his thing in the operating rooms, his wife and the triplets went to several orphanages to play and work with the children there.
Scott said part of his vision is to expose his children to a bigger world than Rome, Georgia. The year before, the family went to Coban, Guatemala where Kate, Ryland and Parker helped install water filters at several different locations. The Harbin surgeon said he tries to take a godly perspective on the world.
“We’re not here just to pamper (the triplets), but to go out and serve others,” he said. “I think it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone and go operate somewhere where they don’t have trochars and they don’t have laparoscopy and they don’t speak your language.”
Scott said the family would continue to work with World Medical Missions “and maybe someday we’ll wind up in Africa as the kids get older.”