Mam'k Podiatrist Straightens Limbs in Nicaragua

Two Doctors, 4 Days, 23 Surgeries

by Dr. Charles Morelli

(March 27, 2008) The fourth humanitarian journey from Mamaroneck to Leon, Nicaragua began at JFK airport on February 15 at 3:18 am. Two doctors, Charles Morelli from Mamaroneck and Jeffrey Siegel from Philadelphia teamed with 11 parishioners from the United Methodist Church of Mamaroneck. The doctors’ mission was to provide medical and surgical attention to as many underserved children and adults as possible in the week they would be at the HEODRA 400-bed teaching hospital in Leon.

Dr. Morelli, a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon, provided the following report on his work with Dr. Siegel treating a diversity of neglected congenital and acquired limb deformities, as well as birth defects:

On Saturday, we evaluated 35 patients and scheduled 23 surgeries. Our days were grueling, our skills were challenged and again, my life was changed forever.

Our days began at 5 am, when we were awakened by the cacophony of “cock-a-doodle-doo” by every rooster in Central America. A sound I now miss. We started work at 7 am providing lectures to the orthopedic residents and medical staff at HEODRA as they are starved for up-to-date information. Surgical cases began at 8 am and ran all day. We made rounds and left the hospital by 8 pm. We returned to the compound, ate, showered, called home and were sleeping by 10 pm.

Drs. Morelli and Siegel gave a lecture on foot surgery to the orthopedic residents at HEODRA Hospital.

The poster-child for our trip was Willie: A little 7-year-old boy with severe lower leg and foot deformities. He underwent clubfoot surgery at 7 months of age that resulted in over-correction. His deformities went untreated which, over his short life, literally destroyed the growth plates in his ankles and affected the curvature of his legs. His feet were translated laterally and he was forced to walk on his ankles. The surgery to realign his foot took 3-1/2 hours and was performed without the benefit of intra-operative fluoroscopy. The result should enable him to bear weight on the bottom of his foot so he will not have to resort to walking on his ankle bone.

Willie is a brave little boy who has no parents, and is being raised by his five brothers. He exemplifies the purpose and the mission of this trip, and is why we do this type of work. Willie touched our lives and hearts and we continue to pray for him.

Dr. Morelli and Willie


Dr. Jeffrey Seigel helped correct severe deformities
to one child's legs and feet.

The El Ayudante staff, medical personnel at HEODRA and the people of Leon were warm, gracious and enthusiastic about our volunteer efforts. As we departed, I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude that I again was able to use the skills that God had blessed me with.

Equipped with five oversized suitcases stuffed with over $300,000.00 of medical supplies that so many companies graciously donated, we were able utilize these tools to serve these terribly impoverished people. This was a very successful and productive trip that could not have been possible without the assistance and surgical skills of Dr. Jeffrey Siegel and the support of our vendors and financial donors. We are looking forward to next year.