"Parasites, Peritonitis, & Prayer"
(snapshot dated January, 1973)

From what I can see, here are the three biggest differences between the medical problems of average Chiapans and their counterparts in the U.S.:

In the January, l973 issue of the Newsletter, Dr. Robert Bowes, who was at Yerba Buena during 1972 and 1973, writes about his extraordinary experience with one patient with a too-ordinary ailment:

My attention was drawn to the sound of wretching outside the "Consultorio" window. It was toward the end of a busy Sunday full of many interesting cases, but the sounds which caught my ear were the harbingers of a very long evening. Eighteen-year-old Santiago was assisted into the examining room by his concerned family and friends. He was pale, sweaty and feverish and almost unable to walk. After a few minutes of questioning, I learned that for the past three days he had run a high fever and vomited everything he ate. Physical exam revealed a very firm, tender abdomen with tenderness accentuated in the right lower quadrant and a positive rebound sign: almost certainly appendicitis, probably ruptured with peritonitis. A few quick orders for IV's, catheter, and other preparations for surgery, preceded my summons for Dr. Sanchez. After a short consultation we agreed that surgery was the only chance this lad had to live. Dr. John Trummer, the out-going Social Service doctor agreed to assist with monitoring the patient and giving general anesthetic. With prayerful hearts we began laparotomy with the aid of spinal anesthesia plus sedatives and ether.  Upon opening the peritoneum -- foul smelling pus heralded the dreaded complication of peritonitis. It was with much difficulty that we examined the matted-down intestines until we discovered, not ruptured appendix, but a l/2" hole in the small intestine! With no small effort I managed a double row of sealing sutures to close the defect, praying that the friable tissues would hold and heal. More exploration for other holes and possibly a large roundworm (Ascaris lombricoides) which we now suspected to be the culprit responsible for the first hole. (A few weeks before in a similar case a roundworm was found free in the peritoneum during surgery.) No more holes or any worms! Inflamed appendix: removed! Quick closure! After surgery, the family revealed that Santiago had vomited a l0-inch roundworm the day before, undoubtedly the culprit responsible for his condition.

Heavy doses of IV and IM antibiotics, several vensections, and good nursing care were adjuncts to the Creator's healing power. Today, l5 days later, Santiago is eating, walking, and spending some time each day in the sun. He is still weak and treatment to strengthen him and rid him of his parasites will continue for several days, but we at Yerba Buena feel that God has already answered our prayers in his behalf. With his body whole, we pray that his mind will now be open to the message of a Better Land where such problems will exist no more.

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