Orthopaedic surgeons perform reconstructive surgery on children in Peru

Peru fellows 1

For the last 19 years around the winter holidays, Daniel P. Mass, MD, Director Emeritus of UChicago Medicine's Orthopaedic Hand, Upper Extremity, and Microsurgery Fellowship Program, has led a trip to Lima, Peru to perform reconstructive surgeries on children in need.

"I wanted to give back and I thought it was a good way of doing that," Mass said.

Each year for about two weeks, Mass and fellows from UChicago Medicine perform complex procedures during the medical mission trip. This past December, Mass and fellows Christian J. Zaino, MD, and Jason Somogyi, MD, treated rare congenital hand deformities at Lima's National Children's Hospital, called Instituto Nacional De Salud Del Nio - San Borja.

"There's really no limitations on his operative imagination," Zaino said of his mentor, Mass. "It's wonderful for a fellow who is here for one year to learn the extremes of the surgical subspecialty within orthopedics."

Mass said the trip is educational both for his fellows, who get experience treating cases "you mostly see in textbooks," and also for surgeons in Peru.

"Our work gives a child their function back," said Zaino. "To give someone a thumb, when they were born without one, restores near-normal function in their hand and is really incredible to see.

Mass said he has helped to change the practice at the hospital in Lima and plans to take another group of fellows there this December. The trio traveled to Peru with the help of the nonprofit group Health Volunteers Overseas.