SANTIAGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (KTVI)- The Pediatric Orthopedic Project is a group of St. Louis-based doctors and nurses that travels to the Dominican Republic each year to perform corrective spinal surgeries on children with scoliosis. The team has learned to think outside the box to overcome obstacles while doing mission work abroad.
"We always talk about …it's sort of the "MacGyver attitude" here," said Dr. Enrico Stazzone. "You have to be able to fix problems creatively."
Over the years, the group has faced several challenges including outdated and broken equipment and lack of supplies and medication.
"Every year we barely make it, but we make it," said Dr. Madelyn Stazzone. "It would be great to not have to worry whether we make it."
Like other non-profit organizations, the group relies on donations and grants to make the annual trip possible. Money left over after the surgeries are covered is donated back into the Arturo Grullón Children’s Hospital.
The Pediatric Orthopedic Project takes mission work one step further by training the local doctors and nurses to perform surgeries even after the group returns to the states.
"Our goal was not to come in as some missions do - they come in and they do surgeries and they fix the kids and they go home," said E. Stazzone. "Our goal was really to be more inclusive. We wanted to work together as a team."
To date, the team has performed 34 corrective spinal surgeries in the Dominican Republic. Their counterparts in Santiago have completed another 60 surgeries.