Posted by: calloftheandes | May 11, 2009

“We Give These Kids A Chance” with Surgeons Volunteering Time & Talents


by Jessica Siekmeier
photos: Eckehart Wolff

Source: HCJB Global
For many children, their diagnosis of cerebral palsy (CP) means spastic muscles, dislocated hips and the inability to walk. Determined to change the story of Ecuadorian children with CP, doctors from Chile, Dr. Jim GageColombia, Venezuela and Argentina come to Ecuador each January to learn from each other and perform life-changing surgeries on cerebral palsy patients.

Dr. Jim Gage, a stateside expert on gait analysis and treatment for CP, forms the teams of doctors that spend three weeks seeing patients and carrying out operations. This January they saw between 70 and 80 patients, doing surgeries on 35 of them. With their combined expertise, the doctors learn from each other while performing surgeries on special CP cases that might normally confound a doctor conducting the surgery solo.

“Each of us has a different experience,” explained Dr. Eckehart Wolff, a surgeon at Hospital Vozandes-Shell, HCJB Global Hands’ jungle hospital in Ecuador. “We have special cases, no one knows what to do, and then we figure it out.”

In the last two years, 350 new CP patients have come through the hospital from Quito, San Lorenzo, Shell and other parts of Ecuador. Wolff is often able to perform the necessary operations, but for cases that are particularly challenging, the children wait to have surgery when the doctors meet together in Quito at the beginning of each year.

Many children in Ecuador suffer from CP because of complications during childbirth. The poor are most frequently affected as they often don’t have access to proper medical care during delivery.

After the surgery and continued physical therapy, many of the children can do something they’ve never been able to do—walk—an ability that can also have a profound psychological impact on them.

“Without the operation they wouldn’t be walking a year later,” Wolff said. “We train them to walk. If you walk, your mind works. We give these kids a chance.”

PCI Spezialisten



  1. […] 13 members on the team this year, the visiting surgeons return year after year, being on a first-name basis with people of other nations whom they see only once a year. Some […]

  2. […] Several years ago surgeons operated on Narciso, 15, who has needed several surgeries throughout the years. “He was crawling … he couldn’t do anything else … but now he can walk with a walker,” Wolff recounted. “Since he doesn’t have muscles in certain areas, he’ll never [have full mobility], but yes, he can walk!” […]

  3. I am one of the kids that this men make progress so i´m so agree with they and i wish all good for they

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