A fundraiser for the medical mission, called Operation New Life, took place Saturday, June 10 at the Remington Gun Club in Lonoke.
Ernesto Suarez, 22, attended the event. He is from Mexico. Suarez is recovering after doctors with Operation New Life removed a baseball-sized tumor from his cheek.
"My family doesn't have the money for the operation," said Suarez. Mexican doctors told Suarez it would cost $10,000 for the surgery, and the doctors don't have the technology to reconstruct his face.
Suarez’s friend Fredy Arroyo got him in touch with Doctor Kris Shewmake from Operation New Life. He and a colleague performed the surgery free of charge.
"When they told me, I said thank God, thank you for everything,” said Suarez.
Now Suarez can finish college and become an accountant.
“I can continue with my studies in Mexico and with my life plans and I can work for my family,” said Suarez.
Ernesto's brother suffers from cerebral palsy and his father has muscular dystrophy. He will be the sole provider for his two sisters, two brothers and his parents.
“I feel fine because my face is perfect. I feel like other people. I can go to school and feel normal. All of this is amazing,” said Suarez.
While Suarez is from Mexico, the medical mission Operation New Life helps people in Honduras.
“There's suffering beyond imagination in that hospital,” said Dr. Shewmake.
Dr. Shewmake spent Saturday afternoon at the fundraiser. It generated $35,000 for Operation New Life.
“We have partnered with their large indigent care teaching hospital. It's the only medical school in the country of Honduras," said Dr. Shewmake.
The doctors visit twice a year. They go a step beyond treating patients, they train Honduran doctors. “There just so ill equipped to take care of their patients. I mean they are doing things the way we did them 50 years ago,” said Dr. Shewmake.
In addition, they lack basic medical supplies. “They'll run out of IV's in the middle of the day and the kids that are supposed to get chemotherapy don't get their chemo. The water will stop in the middle of the day, and there will be no water in the whole hospital,” said Dr. Shewmake.
The money that was raised on Saturday will allow doctors to continue their mission, something they consider themselves blessed to do.
For more information on how to get involved with Operation New Life go to the F.Y.I. section of the www.todaysthv.com website.