You never know when a friend will get you into something you’re just going to love. It happened to Natalia Toledo, RN, a hematology/oncology nurse at 210 Westchester Avenue. One of Natalia's friends who is a nurse anesthetist told her about an organization--the Butterfly Foundation--which she has supported for many years. It’s a nonprofit medical organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with complex spine deformity through worldwide medical missions. The Foundation’s surgical volunteers train local surgeons to perform life-saving spine surgery.
“My friend invited me on the next mission, which was to the Dominican Republic during the week of October 9th,” Natalia says. On
Natalia Toledo, RN, from WESTMED hematology/oncology (at left) is shown with 3 orthopedic surgeons and a healthcare professional who does neuro monitoring.
this mission, she was part of a skilled volunteer surgical team that performed operations on 23 children mainly for scoliosis repairs and other deformities at the Dr. Salvador B. Gautier Hospital in Santa Domingo. The hospital is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the Dominican Republic.
“Our team consisted of orthopedic/spine surgeons, PAs, scrub techs, nurse anesthetists and RNs,” Natalia explains. “We worked with the hospital staff not only to complete the surgeries, but to teach their team of resident orthopedic surgeons and resident anesthesiologist the techniques to complete such surgeries.” Natalia said her skills were used in three ways: as a Spanish-English translator, as a surgical assistant and to assist in patient recovery. "This was my first experience volunteering in a medical mission, was definitely life-changing and something I’m looking forward to doing again," Natalia said.
The Butterfly Foundation's medical missions are made possible through donations--not only monetary but equipment donations as well. They do yearly trips to Santo Domingo and to Vietnam. To learn more, go to http://www.butterflyfoundation.com/