Aboard USS Kearsarge: Humanitarian Surgery Begins Under Operation Continuing Promise 2008

The first surgical patient from Nicaragua embarked USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Aug. 15 to undergo a life-changing procedure to remove an abnormal growth in his right eye as part of Continuing Promise (CP) 2008.

CP is a humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission enabling both U.S. and partner-nation medical staffs to collectively address regional medical concerns and develop effective, economical solutions that can be used through the region.

Ches Lacallo, 11, a native of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, has been suffering with an abnormal growth in his right eye for seven years. It has made it very difficult for him to see, and friends and family members often shy away from looking at him. With this surgery, Ches and his family feel he is being given a chance at a better life.

“This is the first time that anyone from any other country has come and done this type of work before, nobody has ever done this before,” said Victor Lacallo, Ches’ father. “It was very difficult for me to see my son in this condition. Since I do not have too much money, I could not afford to get it done.”

Fleet Surgical Team 4, along with their partner-nation colleagues, expect to perform several surgeries per day aboard Kearsarge, while also providing medical treatment, bio-medical repair, medical education, and veterinary assistance to various locations ashore.

Kearsarge serves as an enabling platform through which military and nongovernmental organizations can coordinate and carry out humanitarian efforts. Kearsarge’s flexibility and configuration make it an extraordinarily effective ship for performing humanitarian assistance missions.

Kearsarge has a robust on-board medical capability to include four fully-functional operating rooms.

“It was the perfect kind of surgery for this mission,” said Cmdr. Brian Alexander, an optometrist from Portsmouth Naval Hospital. “Even though it’s a simple surgery, it will have a big impact on this child’s life. His appearance is completely different now. He’s going to be a much happier person, and his life is going to drastically improve.”

The CP mission exemplifies the U.S. maritime strategy which emphasizes deploying forces to build confidence and trust among nations to improve health, prolong life, promote training, and enhance prosperity.

“Continuing Promise 2008 is an excellent opportunity to display our friendship and cooperation with the other countries in the Americas,” said Alexander. “Not only that, but to provide care on an individual basis to people who really need it is a very rewarding.”

After the surgery, Ches gave medical personnel a huge smile and told them he looked forward to the future.

“I can now read my text books,” said Ches. “I want to read so I can finish school and become a teacher one day and then the principal of my school. I am very happy this happened to me.”

Kearsarge’s mission is to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian and civic assistance as well as veterinary, medical, dental and civil engineering support to six partner nations and to send a strong message of U.S. compassion, support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

USS Kearsarge is under the operational control of U.S. 4th Fleet. Headquartered in Mayport, Fla., the 4th Fleet directs United States naval forces operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies to shape maritime environment.

The CP Caribbean Phase is the second of two HCA deployments to the Southern Command area of focus for 2008. The first CP deployment was conducted by USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Pacific.

Erik Barker (NNS)

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One Response to “Aboard USS Kearsarge: Humanitarian Surgery Begins Under Operation Continuing Promise 2008”

  1. Nicaragua » http://www.cafepress.com/TEAMultimedia/843205 Says:

    […] http://www.cafepress.com/TEAMultimedia/843205The first surgical patient from Nicaragua embarked USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Aug. 15 to undergo a life-changing procedure to remove an abnormal growth in his right eye as part of Continuing Promise (CP) 2008. … […]

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