Medical mission working in Ecuador has strong LI ties

Dr. Edwin Moreano in his Jackson Heights office

Dr. Edwin Moreano in his Jackson Heights office waiting room. (March 22, 2013) (Credit: Steven Sunshine)

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A Bayville doctor is spending this week in his native Ecuador performing surgery with a team of volunteers, transporting bags of supplies and -- when he's not spending 12-hour days in the operating room -- teaching new techniques.

Dr. Edwin Moreano, a plastic surgeon, considers the trip -- his 17th since founding Moreano World Medical Mission in 1999 -- his duty to the country he moved from as a 9-year-old and to his profession as a physician. And this trip includes more Long Islanders, about half the group of 36 volunteers.

"We are lucky to have world-class training here, and it'd be a pity if we didn't give back," said Moreano, born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, where he practices medicine, and now living in Bayville.


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Before the week is through, Moreano said, he and his colleagues will have provided about 300 children with free medical procedures, including cleft-lip reconstructive surgeries, burn treatments and dental care.

The group of doctors, nurses and support staff brings not just its medical expertise, but also cultural sensitivities. Many speak fluent Spanish and some, like Moreano, have ties to the region.

The reach of the mission, a nonprofit with volunteers paying their own way and supplies donated in part by Melville-based distribution company Henry Schein, has widened over the years.

More children are scheduled for treatment, with many this year traveling to Ecuador's capital of Quito, where Moreano's group is working, from remote mountain villages. And the mission for the first time includes conferences for local doctors in which American doctors are sharing the latest techniques on plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat treatments.

Dr. Kip Lord Bodi, 61, a urologist who practices in Huntington, is traveling with Moreano for the first time.

He studied medicine in Guadalajara, Mexico, speaks fluent Spanish and worked in clinics in the Mexican countryside, but said Thursday before he left that he expects to gain as much as he gives in Quito.

"I'm excited to have a good time, learn a few things and make a few friends," he said.

Julia McLarney, 43, of Baldwin, an operating room nurse at Huntington Hospital, was born in Lima, Peru. She sees the trip, her sixth with Moreano, as a way to give back.

"It has a good place in my heart," she said of traveling six times with the mission. "I'm from Peru. Ecuador is right next door. I'm helping my people, helping people in general."

David Gugerty, 51, of Bayville, who is not a medical professional but speaks Spanish, will help in the recovery room, comforting patients, and wherever else he can. This is his third mission.

"This is one situation where we absolutely receive, far and away, more than we give," he said.

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