30 children forever changed by international surgeons

By January 27, 2011

Ecuador (MNN) — For 30 children, yesterday marked the end of time spent with 17 people that permanently changed their lives.

In the mid-1990s, Minnesota surgeon Dr. Jim Gage embarked on a mission. Dr. Wally Swanson with HCJB Global invited Gage to do surgical work at Hospital Vozandes-Shell in Ecuador. Gage's work at the hospital brought him face to face with German medical missionary Dr. Eckehart Wolff.

Wolff was working at the time (as he continues to today) at Hospital Vozandes-Shell with various children who could not walk well, or sometimes, at all. When Gage first came down to the hospital, Wolff did his after-care. The two were in touch, and ministry has been going ever since.

As Wolff and Gage continued to work together, providing mobility for children who had never mastered it, their work struck the interest of medical missionaries across the continent. Before long, not only were some of Gage's associates from Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare accompanying him on his trips down to Ecuador, but the mobility ministry had attracted surgeons from Chile.

"I think this little program has become the focus of neuro-muscular work for all of South America," Gage told HCJB Global.

For proof, this last surgical stint consisted of 17 surgeons from Brazil, Child, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany and the U.S. The team studied Wolff's toughest mobility cases from the year and chose 30 patients for surgery. The surgeries were so involved, that some took two surgical teams working on one child simultaneously.

Yesterday marked the end of a two-week stay in Ecuador for the surgeons, all of whom had come at their own expense.

Their careful hands have undoubtedly changed forever the lives of these children, some of whom could not even walk just a few weeks ago. Still, it will do little good if the children never come to know their Lord and Savior. Pray that the love of Jesus Christ was evident through these surgeons' healing hands. Pray also that as Wolff provides after-care, his ongoing ministry would be a testimony to the children and their families.

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