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Nov 5, 2019

A Life-Changing Surgery for a Mother of 3

For twenty years of her life, a Guinea Grass resident endured pain from an external hernia that developed so big that she carried her organs outside her body.  The mother of three boys says that aside from the excruciating pain, the public stares were a challenge so she mostly kept at home. Today, when we caught up with Maria Medina, her world has changed. She successfully underwent surgery at the K.H.M.H. where the massive lump was removed and she can now move around as a normal person. News Five’s Duane Moody has the following uplifting story.


Duane Moody, Reporting

We are generally taught that we can be injured when we lift an extremely heavy object. With the exception of weightlifters, who are professionally trained, we are told that we can develop a hernia. While there are various types of hernias, it is the abnormal exit of tissue or an organ, such as the bowel, through the wall of the stomach cavity in which it normally resides. If untreated, it can lead to life-threatening complications.


Emerson Mungia

Dr. Emerson Mungia, General Surgeon

“Every hernia has a different cause. In her case, she had a previous surgery and because of the previous surgery, she developed hernia and that hernia was getting bigger and bigger and bigger every day. And suddenly you see the patient and all the organs come outside the abdominal cavity and then that make it a very complicated situation.”


The resulting bulge can be painful, especially when you cough, bend over or lift a heavy object. That was the case for a mother of three boys from Guinea Grass Village in Orange Walk. Forty-eight-year-old Maria Medina had been experiencing excruciating pain for twenty years. The hernia she carried after having her young son grew and made it uncomfortable for her to walk and even socialize. It was tough for the single mother who couldn’t even take care of her family.


Voice of: Maria Medina, Patient

“It’s a pain that is terrible. I can’t suffer…like I can’t eat. Sometime I have to eat like every four hours if not I got pain like six-seven hours. When you walking, when you want to jump in the bus, it hard for me before. But now, before I get the surgery.”


Duane Moody

“Did people watch you differently?”


Maria Medina

Voice of: Maria Medina

“Yes because every time they watch me dehn tell me, “Oh Miss Maria, yo got big belly. What you have?” I tell ahn I got hernia; that’s all. But I feel bad; I noh want go out for nothing; even to buy something, I noh want go out.”


Dr. Emerson Mungia

“Practically, all her internal organs were outside, even the liver. Ninety percent of the intestines were outside of the normal abdominal cavity hanging and it was very difficult for her to live in this conditions. At the same time, it is a challenge for any surgeon because to be successful in this kind of operation—not only need expertise of the surgeon, but need an entire team to work together and the hospital had to provide some kind resource to prepare this kind of operation.”


Medina’s condition is one of two cases in Belize that Doctor Emerson Mungia has seen since taking up residency at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in 2004. But he was confident that with the adequate staff and resources, corrective surgery would be a success. On August sixth, 2019, after some two hours of surgery, Medina was out of the operating theatre and in recovery. The treatment process was extensive, one month twenty days of hospitalization.


Dr. Emerson Mungia

“This kind of operation was very complex because she had to stay at the hospital almost two months. She came with many complications: she had hypothyroidism; she came with anaemia. To do this operation, we had to prepare very well in different times. Practically, we prepared this operation ten times. The first step to prepare this patient for surgery is to increase the capacity of the abdominal cavity to put the organs inside again because due to the long period of time with the intestines outside, the abdominal cavity collapsed. If I wanted to do it one time to put the organs inside and close the abdominal cavity, she would die the next six hours because her condition and hypertension of inside the abdominal cavity. So this is why we had to prepare this kind of operation step by step. Normally I schedule six weeks and practically, we set time and everything was successful in six weeks.”


The surgery at a private medical facility in Belize or outside of the country would have cost Medina over one hundred thousand dollars. With the services available at the national referral hospital, the family paid only five thousand dollars.

Today, Medina was back at the K.H.M.H., three months post surgery. Calling it a miracle, Medina is feeling confident and grateful for having a new look at life.


Dr. Emerson Mungia

“She came to my clinic today; she is walking normal, she can do whatever she wants, she can eat whatever she wants to eat. She can do whatever…a normal life practically.”


Duane Moody

“So after care continues as in she has to take medications and things like that?”


Dr. Emerson Mungia

“Actually no. She is not taking no more medication. She is out of medication. I will discharge her soon. This is her last appointment with me.”


Voice of: Maria Medina

“Every time I say, Thanks God, thank the Doctor cause they make a miracle in my life.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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