For Dr. Mark Eidelman, director of the Pediatric Orthopedic Department at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, the “pace was insane”, but the experience was one that he hopes to repeat.

Eidelman was one of five doctors who joined an international medical delegation to the southern Ecuadoran city of Loja in June to treat the orthopedic problems of local patients. Operating from 7:00 a.m until 11:00 p.m. every day for four consecutive days, the doctors treated 33 patients, most of whom were children from neighboring villages, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the Rambam Health Care Campus.

The medical team of 22 doctors, nurses and physical therapists, accompanied by two and a half tons of medical equipment, arrived in Loja under the auspices of Operation Rainbow, an California-based organization that sends several medical missions every year to under-developed Latin American countries.

Eidelman explained since the university hospital in Loja publicized a the mission a year ago, “some 350 candidates requested operations, and doctors at the hospital chose 75 cases that seemed most urgent.”

Dr. Mark Eidelman with a young Ecuadoran patient (photo credit: Rambam Health Care Center)

Dr. Mark Eidelman with a young Ecuadoran patient (photo credit: Rambam Health Care Center)

Upon arrival, the doctors examined the cases and determined which were the most pressing. Over the next four days 33 surgeries and treatments were performed on patients ranging from 65 years to five months old.

“Most of the patients came from villages in a range of 500 kilometers (about 310 miles) from the hospital, but these people had little choice. What can an eight-year old girl who has waited five years for treatment do if there is no pediatric orthopedist in her region?” said Eidelman.

Despite the frenetic pace of work, Dr. Eidelman remembers nearly every patient that he saw that week. “This was the first time I took part in a delegation like this, and it was an incredible experience,” he said once back in Israel. “I hope that in the near future I can participate in this crucial effort once again.”