CALBAYOG CITY, Philippines –
If 20-year-old Valentino Dealagdon didn’t receive medical care
immediately, he was going to die.
A mass in the man’s leg, which had been steadily growing over recent
months, had become septic and developed Gas Gangrene. Bacterial
growth exploded, producing dangerous gases and toxins.
The bacteria was poisoning his blood and could have caused a
A village chief told the Dealagdon family about Pacific Partnership
2012 (PP12) and the hospital ship USNS Mercy’s (T-AH 19) visit to
Dealagdon and his mother arrived in Calbayog City by ambulance at a
PP12 surgery community action project (SURGCAP) site where
Valentino’s critical condition was quickly identified.
Capt. James Toledano was the first surgeon to see Dealagdon at the
SURGCAP recalled that the young man was brought into the site on a
"We felt that the condition of his limb was really threatening his
life and by his vital signs indicated he had little time to live,"
Dealagdon was flown by helicopter aboard Mercy for emergency
Lt. Kayla Horton, was on the scene when Dealagdon arrived on Mercy's
"He looked very thin and very frail, and with a quick look at his
leg you can tell that it was very swollen and infected," said
Horton. "We quickly got him to the causality receiving room and
started him on IV's to stabilize him."
PP12’s Director of Surgical services, Cmdr. Matthew Provencher said
Dealagdon’s only chance at survival was an urgent leg amputation.
"Without an emergent leg amputation his chances of survival were
minimal," said Cmdr. Provencher. "Through a great host nation and
Mercy's team effort, we were able to transport the patient to the
ship for urgent life-saving surgery."
PP12’s Dr. Robert Baxt, general surgeon and Project HOPE volunteer,
was the on-call surgeon for the day.
"I got the phone call saying that he was on a helicopter, and we
responded," Baxt said.
"His chances of survival when we started the surgery were less than
50%, but after surgery we could already start seeing signs of
Partner Nation Surgeon, Major Christiaan Hoff, of the Dutch Army,
assisted during the operation.
"When we did the surgery, the essential thing was to stop the spread
of infection,” he said.
The first thing the surgeons did after the patient was under
anesthesia was tying the blood vessels that were transporting the
Dr. Hoff went on to explain that the team was able to divert the
blood vessels in the first few minutes of surgery.
“The patient will still have to go in for additional surgery
depending on his stabilization.
“The surgeons will create an incision that will heal properly once
the infection is gone.”
Hoff said the atmosphere in the operating theatre was highly
“Despite the stress of time, it was a very organized situation,”
Dr Hoff said the surgery took roughly one hour from the first
incision to dressing the wound.
PP12's Lead Nurse during the surgery, Julie Porucznik, a Project
HOPE volunteer, said of this emergent situation, "This is the type
of case that I am good at handling; this is why I joined Project
HOPE; and, this is why I resigned my job, so I can help people in
Proucznik said she had not seen a case like this on Mercy, "We do
many life-changing surgeries here, but this one helped save a man’s