Jodi Yingling, BSN RN CNOR RNFA
Brett Yingling, BSN RN
When DeNese asked us to write a blog for our most recent Surgicorps trip to Guatemala, I felt that I needed to give everyone a background of how this all began for us.
I had always had a goal to do a mission trip to a foreign country to help those less fortunate than myself by donating my time and talents in Operating room nursing. Traveling back about 25 years, another RN and myself were discussing my wish in the Operating Room when she told me that she knew just the organization that I needed to contact to make my wishes come true. She wrote down the name of Surgicorps and Dr. Jack Demos’ name and told me that they were traveling to other countries to provide free surgical services to people in need. Our children were young at the time and I could not plan a mission at that time. I always carried that piece of paper in my wallet, moving it everytime I changed wallets.
Fast forward 25 years, our kids are out of college and the house. I pulled that piece of paper out of my wallet and told my husband that it was time and I was going to apply for a mission trip with Surgicorps. I applied and was accepted to go to Guatemala in 2017. My husband supported my decision and drove me to the Pittsburgh airport, dropped me off and said Goodbye.
I didn’t know anyone on the team and roomed with an Occupational Therapist from Boston. The week was life changing for me. I got to do what I love, (Surgeries), and felt blessed with a full heart when I returned.
My husband is also a Registered Nurse in Surgical Trauma ICU. When he saw my excitement to return to Guatemala to do another mission trip, he said he wanted to volunteer as well. He said, “I’m not an Operating Room Nurse, but I’m sure there is something that I can do”. So, he applied as well and was accepted to go to Guatemala the following year. Our team became unexpectedly short on OR nurses, so Stephanie, the trip coordinator, asked my husband if he would be willing to “fill in” as an OR nurse. He chuckled and said “I will do anything you need as long as the surgeon knows I’m not an OR nurse”. So, he became an OR nurse for the week. The surgeons were all very patient and kind and he found his niche.
Two more Guatemala trips since that time, and we feel like a well oiled machine with a family that work together with a common goal in mind. After completing 105 surgeries this year with a lean crew, we left Guatemala with tired legs and achy feet, but a very full heart. And completing the 100th Surgicorps mission was the icing on the cake for all!
We are so appreciative to have the opportunity to help the people of Guatemala receive the care they need, and we are grateful to Surgicorps for allowing us to fulfill our humanitarian service. We look forward to future mission trips with Surgicorps!