Following a mandatory screening day, where upwards of 200 children are evaluated by our volunteer surgeons to determine their best treatment plan, approximately 60-70 children are selected to receive surgery.

Children not required to have surgery are either scheduled for therapy or asked to return the subsequent year for follow-up and observation. Due to GHHF’s unique infrastructure and focus in the Guatemala community, we are able to monitor children year after year to insure they receive the best possible consistent care.

Depending on the severity and length of each case, surgical patients are provided with both in and outpatient care with costs covered 100% by GHHF. Most patients arrive in Guatemala City after lengthy bus travel, sometimes as much as eight hours, with just the hand-made clothes on their backs. Patients are given a clean bed to sleep in and three meals a day during their stay. Once a patient has been discharged, families receive detailed instructions explaining how to schedule follow-up care with an assigned local doctor and/or receive customized therapy homecare instructions, often drawn out with stick figures and symbols to avoid any translation confusion or assist patients who cannot read Spanish.[1]

GHHF encourages each patient to return the next year to allow for our volunteer surgeons to reevaluate their progress and determine if any additional surgery is needed.

Throughout the year, volunteer surgeons receive follow-up reports from the physicians in Guatemala who oversee our patients. Reports often include photographs and a personal statement from the patient. If a patient needs additional tests or care that we cannot provide in Guatemala, the process to bring the child to the United States is initiated. In the past, we have also facilitated in the transportation of biopsies from Guatemala to the US in order to provide the patient with the most accurate test results.

[1] 60% of the Guatemalan population speak indigenous languages, mostly of Mayan decent. These languages include Mam, Quiche, Kanjobal, Chuj, Quechi, Aguateco, and Kacchiquel. (Mikkelson, 1999)