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Student organization conducts medical mission trip on the Texas border

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Francesca Adobe, medical explorer, is hard at work building a wheelchair for a patient's prescription on Oct. 14 and 15. Photo courtesy of Charles Johnson.

Medical Explorers, a Texas State student organization, traveled to Del Rio on Oct. 13. Del Rio is a border town in Texas the Medical Explorers have traveled to for numerous medical mission trips.

Medical Explorers serves on these missions with The Christian Medical and Dental Association. Medical Explorers are invited to every CMDA mission trip since 1992. Although many colleges around Texas were involved in these trips in the past, the Medical Explorers are now the only undergraduate organization that receives this invitation to serve with CMDA.

Charles Johnson is a retired faculty member active in the student organization.

“They invite us to go on these trips because we are so well trained and we can contribute to the skills needed,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, our students end up teaching first-year medical students how to do some things that you’d be surprised they don’t know how to do, but we do.”

In Del Rio, children were able to enter the U.S. for one day in order to receive necessary medical care.

“The children get a one-day pass to come to the U.S., then Border Patrol brings them over. We outfit them for their wheelchairs and then they get back on the bus to go back over to Mexico,” said Kiley Schlortt, biology senior and hospice volunteer coordinator for Medical Explorers.

The students in Medical Explorers were able to get hands-on experience assessing patients and crafting these wheelchairs.

“We had a wheelchair clinic for children from Mexico,” Johnson said. “There is no market for used therapeutic wheelchairs in the United States. As the children outgrow them, they take them to the dump. These wheelchairs are custom made wheelchairs for their prescribed needs. We tear them apart and remake them at the border. The wheelchair technicians, medical explorers and rehab doctors can redesign them and we make the children wheelchairs to take home. These are children that don’t have access to wheelchairs in Mexico.”

This mission trip also provided dental care in Del Rio. There were many patients who had been waiting for years to receive dental care.

“This past weekend was the weekend of ACL and everyone was going out and having fun, but I had a better time improving myself, helping patients, talking to doctors who spent their whole weekend serving people and talking to people that don’t have access to medical care ever,” said Francesca Agobe, microbiology junior and member of Medical Explorers. “For some, this was the first time they had received this medical care. There were kids who were 12 or 15 years old who had never been to the dentist before. It was a unique opportunity to get to touch people’s lives like that.”

Juan Castillo, biology junior and member of Medical Explorers, also attended the mission in Del Rio and extended gratitude to his fellow mission workers for their contribution to towns similar to his own.

“I am from a town very similar to Del Rio,” Castillo said. “I don’t have medical insurance. My family doesn’t have medical insurance. I have family that doesn’t go to the dentist or to the doctor and just has to deal with pain every day. It’s really so hard (not being able) to get help, to feel like you can’t go anywhere. Like when you have this huge ache in your mouth and you can’t do anything about it. So I just want to say thank you to you guys, because you are making a difference in people’s lives.”

Medical Explorers conducts six mission trips throughout the school year in Eagle Pass, Del Rio and Laredo. The organization also volunteers at football games, Special Olympics and Wimberley Market Days.

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