The devastating eruption of Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego on June 3rd, 2018, led to 159 deaths and 300 injuries. In response to a formal appeal by Guatemala's government, an HDRC team was swiftly dispatched to help.

A massive plume of black smoke and ash blanketed Guatemala’s capital city and other regions after the country’s worst volcanic eruption in over 45 years.

Following the eruption, Guatemalan hospitals were overwhelmed, with many patients transferred abroad for specialized burn care. Upon request from the Guatemalan government, a team of Sheba burn experts consisting of two plastic surgeons, an orthopedic surgeon, a pulmonologist, an anesthetist, and a burn nurse, were dispatched to help and landed in Guatemala the following day.

Arriving in Guatemala

Upon arrival, the team treated dozens of adults and children, most of whom suffered extensive burns from volcanic ash and pyroclastic materials. A significant portion of the wounded were residents of the same villages, and many were family members who had lost their loved ones along with their homes.

Sharing his personal experience, Prof. Josef Haik, Director of Sheba’s Burn Center and HDRC team member, recalled: “We arrived at a disaster-stricken region, where we encountered difficult sights and stories. Entire families were afflicted; many had lost everything”.

Utilizing the most advanced plastics and burn treatment technologies to help those injured, the HDRC team also educated and trained local medical and emergency personnel on disaster management.

“We specialize in extreme scenarios and are capable of mobilizing world-class medical experts in a short period of time to assist in crisis situations,” explained HDRC Director, Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, who headed the Sheba mission. “I would like to thank the local Health Ministry for the warm welcome that was so crucial for the success of our efforts.”

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