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David Geffen School of Medicine

Postcard from Guatemala

Dean M. Anselmo, MD ’98 (RES ’05), is a pediatric surgeon and co-director of the Vascular Anomalies Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), a pediatric surgeon at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, California, and assistant professor of clinical surgery at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He completed his residency in general surgery at UCLA and a fellowship in pediatric surgery at CHLA. Dr. Anselmo has had a long-standing interest in global medicine, and he has participated in pediatric-surgery missions to Ecuador, Guatemala and Mozambique.

Dr. Dean Anselmo performing pediatric surgery in Guatemala.
Dr. Dean Anselmo performing pediatric surgery in Guatemala. Photo: Isabelle Mejia Fox

At times, it can be easy to forget the relevance of the work you do when you are in the middle of it. I was reminded of that point during a pediatric-surgery mission in Guatemala with Mending Kids International (MKI). I performed many complex procedures and worked with local surgeons in an effort to improve pediatric surgical care. After a complex surgery, I went to speak to the mother of a child who was born with a congenital anomaly, which I had just repaired. I told her that the operation went very well, that there were no complications and that I was very pleased with the outcome. She looked at me and began to cry. She told me that she never thought it would be possible that someone would be able to fix her baby and give him a chance at a normal life. She expressed a profound and heartfelt gratitude for the work of the MKI team. It was a moment that made me appreciate the importance of the work that MKI does in its pediatric-surgery missions. The concerted effort of a group of like-minded and compassionate individuals can make a staggering impact on a child’s life that otherwise would not be possible. I decided to devote a portion of my time and effort to global health and pediatric-surgery missions for the same reason I decided to become a pediatric surgeon: There is no reward greater than improving a child’s life. When compared to all the kids in the world who need help, it seems at times that these missions represent just a small drop in a bucket; however, to the individual children and families who are cared for by MKI, it is a massive drop in a little bucket.

For more information about Mending Kids International, go to: mendingkids.org


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