Dr. Varma and team hold up their hands in a heart shape with pediatric patient.

For many children in Guatemala, access to essential medical care is a challenge. Earlier this year, Namrata Varma, D.O. pediatric otolaryngologist, Memorial Care Miller Children's & Women's Hospital Long Beach, traveled to Guatemala for a week-long medical mission trip to provide specialized ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgery to pediatric patients in critical need of care.

Since her first trip to Guatemala in 2007, Dr. Varma has led the pediatric medical team from Miller Children's & Women's Hospital to Guatemala, addressing the dire need for pediatric ENT care. Through a partnership with the Mending Kids Organization and Shalom Foundation’s Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, Dr. Varma and her team have transformed the lives of countless children by providing surgical care that is otherwise unavailable in the region.

“In Guatemala, a substantial gap exists in health care access, especially in rural areas where most of our patients come from,” says Dr. Varma. “Our mission fills this gap by providing specialized pediatric ENT care for pediatric patients who would otherwise go without it.”

The Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, located in the heart of Guatemala City, is the only pediatric center utilized year-round by volunteer medical and surgical teams who provide surgeries across 10 different specialties during the course of their one-week trips.

Dr. Varma and the Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital pediatric care team worked from dawn to dusk, successfully completing over 100 surgeries in one week. These included simpler surgical procedures like tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies, as well as more complex surgeries such as airway reconstructions. The team also conducted vital pre-screenings and post-operative care, maximizing their time to ensure each child received the best possible care. Thanks to their dedication and determination, Dr. Varma and the care team were able to change the lives of these children.

“There is no greater satisfaction than watching a child breathe easier, smile brighter, or hear better because of the work we do,” says Dr. Varma. “Each surgery transforms a child’s life and changes us as doctors. With every procedure, my dedication to providing care for children in need of immediate care deepens.”

Beyond surgical intervention, these mission trips offer profound cultural exchanges and learning opportunities. Dr. Varma and the care team gained valuable insights into the challenges of delivering health care in underdeveloped communities, while local healthcare workers benefit from the training and expertise shared during the mission. This collaborative environment is a testament to the dedication Miller Children's & Women’s Hospital provides to enhancing health care not just in the community but internationally as well.

“Working alongside the pediatric care team to provide ENT services to children in Guatemala has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career,” says Dr. Varma. “There is a profound joy in seeing the impact we can make. My passion is to ensure that every child we meet has the opportunity to live a life not limited by their medical conditions but enriched by the care they receive.”

Dr. Varma’s commitment to enhancing pediatric ENT care internationally demonstrates her unwavering commitment to changing children’s lives not just in Los Angeles and Orange County but anywhere there is a need for care.