By Steve Mora MD, Orange County Knee Specialist
Discusses His Charity Work Doing Medical Missions in Peru
I think you might like this Sunday morning OC Register article which was written after I returned from a medical mission to Peru. This article (see pics and link below) was published in the OC Register after I got back from Huancavelica Peru. I have been going to Peru to do charitable work for a few years. I have been going every 2-3 years. Medical mission work for me is a way that I can use my education and training to help people who would otherwise never be able to see a specialist. These trips are designed to allow evaluation of hundreds of patients as efficiently as possible in the course of a couple of week. Huancavelica Peru is considered one of the poorest areas of Peru. On this specific trip I had a personal goal of starting a arthroscopy program at the municipal hospital. I was preparing to put together my arthroscopy equipment donations shortly before the trip when I received an email requesting help.
A good hearted person had reached out to me my email knowing I was going to Peru to do some medical work. That individual was hoping that while I was in Perú working I could also help a young man in a totally different remote area of Peru. The original request for help was at least 6 degrees of separation away. I don’t know who had originally initiated the email chain but regardless I got an email requesting a leg prosthesis for a boy who was fighting osteosarcoma. He had had an above knee amputation and needed a prosthetic leg. Initially I did not think I could make it a reality, however one day out of nowhere I felt a surge of hope and positivity. I said to myself…why not?
The story has a good ending. I also included a video speaking about my experience.
How Many People Does It Take To Give A Young Peruvian Boy A New Leg?
There was once a group of folks in Arequipa Peru who wanted to help their 17 yo boy get a prosthetic leg. The boy’s name was Jose Hugo of Arequipa. One year prior in July of 2012 Jose had had an amputation of his left leg for the treatment of Osteosarcoma. He had been given 6 months to live. His amputation and subsequent treatment was successful. One year later he was still healthy just missing his left leg from above the knee joint. He required the use of crutches full time. Without a leg prosthesis, there was no way for him to ever be able to walk without crutches ever again. Getting a leg prosthesis in his part of the world with little income was impossible. In an act of desperation the family sent an email asking for help to one person who sent it to another and then another. Eventually it reached my friend and mentor Ralph Kuon MD who sent it to me. He said ” Steven can you help”? Upon reading the email in Jan of this year I thought there was no possible way that I could help this boy. It just didn’t seem likely that I’d be able to coordinate the measuring building and shipping of a custom made prosthetic leg. I don’t know why I thought it was a hopeless situation but i did. A couple of months later I received another email once again asking for help. One day sometime in April after my bday I thought ” why would this not be possible”. I have a lot of friends and resources. Why not give this project a fighting chance? I thought of Jose Hugo being tied up to his 2 crutches forever. It didn’t feel right to me. My thinking started to change. I felt differently. I felt this project was certainly possible. God told me I could do it. i started making some calls and sending emails around March. . Chad Marquis from Scope Orthotics in Orange replied one day. He said “no prob I can build it”. I could not believe what he just said. I quickly emailed Jose Hugo’s family the news. They knew their prayers had been answered. I did too. Chad and I did some coordinating w Jose Hugo’s contacts. We received pics of the measurements we requested. Chad went to work in May. I picked up the leg on July 2. I left for Peru July 3. I handed off the leg to Jose Hugo’s teacher Father Marcio in Lima on July 4. He packed it and shipped it to Arequipa. Jose Hugo received it 5 days later. The pic below shows the leg being brought to his house. Look around at the environment. Its an extremely modest place. Just before he put on HIS new prosthetic leg he called me. I was seeing patients in Huancavelica Peru on my medical mission when I received the call; I was in a remote city faraway from him. He sounded so happy, young, appreciative and thankful. I was so happy that finally for the first time ever I had made contact with Jose Hugo. He sounded like a good person. He said he would put it on as soon as I got off the phone. I have to admit after i spoke to him I became very choked up. I had to step aside from seeing patients for a few minutes. My emotions were due to the profound happiness and hope I was feeling. I also felt like I was able to pay forward the compassionate medical care I received when I was seriously injured as a child. Its the type of happiness one feels after something wonderful and beautiful happens. I was very happy for Jose Hugo and his family. The pics below tell the rest of the story. The last pic of Jose Hugo and his family says it all.
SO……How Many People Does It Take To Give A Young Peruvian Boy A New Leg …IT TAKES A VILLAGE
When I returned to the states I received a phone call and spoke to Jose. His life was definitely changed for the better. He was walking without crutches.
I took this video outside our motel in Peru Huancavelica talking about the first day and Jose Hugo. Its being able to share this special moment with my family and friends. It was a very special day for me.
Video below talking about the details and challenges of the mission after I had returned.
The Register wrote a nice article about my mission. These mission are always life changing. If you are interested in doing more yourself please look into joining the Peruvian American Medical Society (PAMS) and consider helping as a volunteer. I will be going to Ayacucho in June 2017 . Click here for info on PAMS and my next mission. Please consider donating. Its a great cause. I will keep you updated on our work.
You can find the above article on the OC Register newspaper web page link: Doc Can You Get This Boy a Leg?
Another article featuring Dr. Mora’s mission work: Orthopreneur Journal- Orthopaedic Surgeon Revisiting His Roots
Please share story with someone who might enjoy the read or who might want to participate. Thank you.
About Steve A. Mora MD:
Dr. Mora is an Orange County Orthopedic Specialist. He is a native of Orange County. He graduated from Anaheim High School in Orange County CA. He received his medical education at UC- Irvine College of Medicine where he finished in the top of his class earning the coveted AOA Medical Society honors. He completed his Orthopedic Surgery training at LAC+USC Medical Center and then completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group.
He specializes in:
-Arthroscopy of the knee, shoulder, hip and elbow.
-Arthritis of the knee
-Mixed Martial Arts Injuries
For a consultation please call Restore Orthopedics and Spine Center in the City of Orange 714-598-1745
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