South Shore Health Podiatrist Travels to Guatemala for Mission Work
Sometimes, it is a good idea to talk to strangers in the airport because those conversations can result in fulfilling a lifelong mission.
Wynn Perlick, DPM, podiatrist at South Shore Medical Center and his wife, Annie, a NICU nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, were at the airport when Annie struck up a conversation with a stranger. The person she was talking to just happened to be the engineer for a group who traveled to Guatemala on a surgical mission—with a focus on pediatric podiatry and other deformities and disabilities involving the lower extremities.
Dr. Perlick had been searching for an opportunity just like this his entire professional career. After email exchanges and several phone calls with the group’s lead physician, Dr. Perlick became part of the team.
“It was meant to be,” Dr. Perlick said.
In March, Dr. Perlick traveled to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala with a contingent of podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, and other medical professionals. While there, he was part of a team that performed more than 50 surgeries, ranging from ankle surgeries to surgeries on club foot, which he said usually never gets to the surgery phase in a first-world country.
“Some patients’ feet were turned sideways or turned backwards, where they were sometimes walking on the top of their foot,” Dr. Perlick said.
“We had some fairly aggressive surgical intervention, so we could get the foot straight and flat where they could wear a shoe.”
Dr. Perlick’s patients were predominantly pediatric patients. The trip gave him a greater sense of why he chose to do what he does every day.
“We do get into our routines and we do lose sight of the impact that we have on people’s lives, particularly the community we serve here,” he said.
“The people in Guatemala come from a marginalized society and we were really giving these people their way of life back.”
He continued: “The trip just gave me a new sense of purpose and engagement. I feel really great about what I’m doing as a foot and ankle surgeon and it gave me a renewed sense of what I’m capable of.”