Shortly after two of his brothers died, and his father became crippled by Parkinson’s disease, Merlin Antunez found himself in an orphanage.
In the 1980s in Honduras, there wasn’t much healthcare available, especially for those living in poverty. But Merlin vowed that he would try to change that.
As the years passed, Merlin attended medical school and became an orthopedic surgeon. One day, he happened to meet Dr. Daly, a surgeon from the U.S. visiting Honduras on a medical mission trip. The two hit it off, and an incredibly influential relationship began.
Dr. Daly wanted to build a surgery center that would provide free healthcare to anyone and everyone who needed it. And he knew just the doctor to lead it.
In partnership with the same orphanage that had taken him in as a child, Dr. Merlin Antunez, Dr. Daly, and many others came together to create the Holy Family Surgery Center.
Staffed with Honduran doctors and nurses, as well as other doctors and nurses from around the world who come on mission trips, the HFSC delivers truly life changing care for thousands of patients every year.
In Honduras, if you can’t afford healthcare, you often don’t get it. And in the case of serious injuries and conditions, this can mean a lifetime of disability and poverty for them and their families.
For example, there was a little girl whose hand had been badly burned. It was so bad, that some of the skin on her fingers had melted together. She was only 5 years old, and had been excited to start going to school.
But on her first few days, some of the kids made fun of her disfigured hand. The teasing became so bad, that the little girl would come home from school in tears. Eventually, she just quit going.
To be repaired, her hand required an intense surgery from a highly specialized hand surgeon to fix it. At the time, there was only one such surgeon in Honduras, and there was no way this girl or her family could afford to pay for that.
As time passed, no matter how much her mother tried, she could not convince her daughter to go back to school.
About a year later, a hand surgeon from the US came to Honduras to volunteer with Dr. Antunez. This little girl and her family heard about this surgeon, and came to meet him. This lead to the doctor performing the surgery and healing the girl’s hand.
After the surgery, the doctor was talking with the little girl and her family. The mother explained to the doctor how her daughter hadn’t gone to school for a whole year because of her hand. The doctor turned to the girl, and asked her what she had been doing the whole past year if she hadn’t been going to school?
The girl’s answer both surprised and humbled the doctor. She said, “This whole year I’ve been praying that God would send me a doctor who could fix my hand.”
Dr. Antunez and the other medical professionals who work with him have these kinds of experiences often. They feel profound joy watching patients’ lives transformed right before their eyes.
While going on medical mission trips is incredible and needed, we don’t have to travel across the world to change it.
Regardless of our current position or situation in life, we are where we are for a reason. And more often than not, that reason is to help others in ways that only we can.
We can all be like Merlin in our own little corner of the world. We can rise above challenges and resentment, and seek to become a great benefit to those around us.
To learn more about the great work of Dr. Antunez and the many others who serve with him, you can visit oneworldsurgery.com.