As a fire chief in Long Beach, CA, I developed a pre-hospital system that trained paramedics and firefighters, so I had a very strong background in the medical system and thought I knew how it all worked. However, I am now retired and living in Guatemala. When I found out I had prostate cancer I chose to listen to my family doctor who recommended a urologist, who literally butchered my urinary canal with a laser, instead of going directly to a cancer specialist.
After the cancer spread to my left femur, I turned everything over to my pal, Lori. She took me by the hand and led me through what was, to me, uncharted water. She has done a masterful job of learning all about the doctors and their skills. Needless to say, I owe her my life, or at least my undying gratitude.
-- G.D. Morgan, Rio Dulce
I can only imagine that I hurt my back 30 years ago while doing a navy divers course. In my spine, I have a lumbar vertebra which is crushed, or still being crushed by disks both above and below. This bone and the nerves to my legs were being attacked by a bacteria.
After five months of deterioration, my daughter came to visit me and immediately called Guatemala Medical Travel. Lori gave her directions to the top Guatemala City hospital and instructions to have me there as soon as possible. Lori met us there on Sunday afternoon and had me admitted immediately. After five days intensive care and seven days of further hospitalization, I went to stay at Lori's place. Here, I was visited twice daily by a nurse for intravenous antibiotic medication and received personal care by Lori herself. For two months I was either unable to walk or barely getting around. I’ve been back on my boat for some months and getting better slowly. I’m walking again now but it still might be some time before I can go sailing again. But, without Lori I might not be writing to you.
-- JPB, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Lori runs a small but very professional service to make it easy to get some of the best medical care in the world. She understands and anticipates your needs and concerns before you even do yourself. My doctor (Dr. Emilio Mishaan) was extremely competent. He found another problem and combined fixing it with my hernia repair. He scheduled me between transplant operations and came to visit me before and after surgery, and again to check on me the next day. Staying at Casa Muriel is like being part of a family where everyone helped with everything.
--Ian W. – Bahamas and Vancouver, BC.
On September 8, 2012, after a celebratory birthday lunch in the city of Antigua, we headed back to our village. Upon leaving the bus, my family heirloom wedding rings caught on something as I took the last step down, and my right-handed ring finger was “de-gloved.”
Billy and I discussed our alternatives and decided to phone Lori Shea from Guatemala Medical Travel. She jumped into action, contacted Dr. Galindo - a hand surgeon and President of the Plastic Surgery Association - and arranged for a consultation in Guatemala City that afternoon.
My dominant hand was injured and I could not fill out the paperwork myself so Lori took all my medical history. She accompanied us into the office, chatted with the doctor, and helped get us a better price for services by keeping me out of the hospital. … That evening after seeing the surgeon and having oxygen therapy, Lori drove us home. Over the next six weeks, I had ten hyperbaric chamber treatments and eleven visits with Dr. Galindo – three of which were on weekends or the National holiday, and two for which we were not charged.
Instead of an amputation, I have a living finger expected to be rehabbed into full working order. On every level of assistance, people were personable and supportive of my condition. I was not a patient number or someone’s car payment and not once was I rushed. Here in Guatemala, treatment was both affordable and accessible.
Read the full story on Akaisha's website.-- Akaisha Kadderly
We have lived in Belize for several years now and we have often heard people say that we should go to Guatemala City if we get sick, but really had no idea of how to go about that. So, being able to contact you is a big comfort for me. Thank you again for your prompt response and caring attitude. It really means a lot to us.
-- Betty J. – Belize.
This past January 2012, I was diagnosed with tonsil/tongue cancer and had surgery in the U.S. at an exorbitant price, and with extremely unsatisfactory results. The doctor knew I had no insurance, so he neglected to offer any after-surgery care (chemo/radiation therapy) and 2 months later, the cancer came roaring back involving my neck and lymph glands.
In the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, I remembered folks talking about an outfit called Guatemala Medical Travel, and the excellent care/prices they received while there, so I emailed them. Happily, I’m still here to share the story. After corresponding with Lori, the director of this service, I flew to Guatemala and was picked up at the airport and whisked off to the beautiful colonial city of Antigua and my home for the next 2 1/2 months. Within 24 hours, I had CT scans, blood work, EKG, meetings with the ENT team and the radiology specialist, and two days later had surgery on my neck and lymph glands. Then came 6 weeks of radiation therapy. The hospital was 1st class, the doctors (all fluent in English) graduates of schools/hospitals such as Johns-Hopkins, Sloane- Kettering, etc., and the radiology facility/equipment was brand new and state of the art.
The cost of surgery/treatment was 1/6 of that of the U.S. but, most importantly, the level of care was incredible; the doctors/nurses treated me as a person not a number and I can honestly say that these people are now among my friends---something I cannot say of their U.S. counterparts who seemed more interested in the depth (or lack of) my bank account.
-- Peter, aboard Nomad, Bahamas
I would like you to thank both doctors for me. The lung doctor especially (Drs. Castellanos and Moralejo). It seems I have a mass in the mediastinum, the area between the heart and lungs. It is a cancer … My internist says it "was a gift from God" that it was found (by the specialists in Guatemala). All the doctors (specialists and department heads in Chicago) are interested in knowing how it was it found, etc. It seems this is not too usual a place to have a mass. I'll keep you posted on progress.
-- Barbara K., Chicago, USA
I am a part-year resident of Antigua and have been for several years; enjoying the weather, the people, and the culture. I met Lori Shea and became familiar with GMT several years ago, but did not enlist Lori’s assistance until this year when it became apparent that some dental issues needed attention and ought not be delayed any longer.
Lori and I discussed my general needs ... She then arranged an initial appointment for me and managed my treatment. All treatment was highly professional, quickly accomplished; absolutely pain free and, most amazing to me, waiting time at each appointment was non-existent. I arrived and was in the chair almost immediately upon arrival. A short number of days later another colleague and implant specialist from the city (Dr. Bonilla) arrived to do the two dental implants in the lower jaw. This was accomplished, again without wait or delay, in a little more than an hour.
The lab did an excellent job and additional appointments for adjustments over an additional week resulted in a comfortable, stable, final fit. At one early point in this process Dr. Sami made some changes and then said, “try this for a little bit and then come back in an hour and a half, and I will make additional adjustments.” No appointment a day or two later, just come back a little later and we will fine tune it some more. What service and professionalism!
Altogether my cost for Lori’s management services and three excellent dental specialists was about US$4300—roughly one-third (or perhaps even a little less) of what this work would have cost in the States. The service and care from Dr. Sami and his colleagues was of the highest professional skill and quality and, given my dental history, I have multiple frames of reference by which to judge! I am more than satisfied; I was delighted by the experience and recommend Lori, GMT, and Dr. Sami without hesitation or reservation.
-- M. Donley, Seattle, WA.
In September, 2011, I had a total right hip replacement in Guatemala City. It was tricky arranging the details from Canada where my wife and I were visiting family and that’s why I contacted Lori Shea from Guatemala Medical Travel. She was in contact via email and arranged bank transfers, sought out accommodations for me and Carole and made sure that the prosthesis I wanted was available prior to our flying to Guatemala.
Lori met us in the City. She arranged and drove us to my initial consultations with the surgeon and cardiologist. She also took us to have my blood work done and X-Rays taken.
The doctors and the hospital facilities were first rate with a caring staff that made me feel like I was their only patient. There were hugs, kisses and sincere wishes for a speedy recovery on my departure from the hospital. Lori arranged for the ambulance to take me to La Antigua for my recuperation and her staff drove Carole back to the apartment which Lori had arranged for us.
Lori made sure I had the necessary equipment such as a walker and a raised toilet and she contacted a nurse to ensure that my staples were removed on time. She also organized physical therapy sessions to take place in our apartment during the first three weeks and drove me to subsequent sessions at the clinic/spa. Taking the paperwork off our hands, she kept us up-to-date with medical, financial and all medication details.
A couple of unforeseen scheduling problems arose which Lori handled efficiently. She was generous with her offers to take Carole shopping or drop us off at places and was always in contact with us throughout our two months in Antigua. Her staff, Juan and Ann, were friendly and helpful; in fact I can honestly recommend GMT to anyone thinking about having medical treatment in Guatemala. She provided a peace of mind for both of us and I’m sure this helped in my speedy recovery.
Anyone wanting more information may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me at Mario's Marina on the Rio Dulce.
-- Roger W., aboard s/v Androsian, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Last summer I was in terrible pain and needed a hip replacement. My orthopedist quoted $40,000 in Miami and I don’t have health insurance. My only choice was to live with it for five years until Medicare kicks in. Guatemala Medical Travel found me an excellent surgeon as well as cheap airline tickets. I paid for all the travel expenses, surgery, physical therapy and three weeks recovering at “Casa Muriel” without even maxing out my credit card. I’m so grateful to finally be pain free – I know I could never get this sort of care at home.
--Anne B., Key West, Florida
Victoria wrote this journal entry only a few hours after having cataract and macula surgery...
Drs. Dalia Gonzalez de Golcher and Jose Golcher did the most caring, loving surgery that anyone can imagine. The tone of voice, camaraderie and deep feelings of intuition that were shown to me were beyond my furthest expectations, much less imaginings. The female anesthesiologist and the female technician worked with each other like a beautiful symphony. The room was filled with loving feelings toward each other as well as to me. The attention to the details that are overlooked in the US made for an exquisite experience of being truly cared about as a person and not as a number. The husband - wife team showed deep respect for each other in their communication which gave me even more confidence in them. Lori Shea's level of professionalism mixed with her gift of being a care giver from the depths of her being, has made me want to shout about her from the rooftops. I feel that I now have quite a list of folks that are acquaintances now, in Guatemala, that are destined to be friends for the rest of my life.
-- Victoria, Key West, Florida
My 23 year old daughter was traveling in Guatemala when she fell seriously ill. Unable to come back to the States for diagnostic and treatment workups, we found Lori & Guatemala Medical Travel. And thank goodness we did! Lori got Sophie into top notch infectious disease specialists, helped her with housing & transportation, accompanied her to office and lab visits and helped her to follow up with doctors for several weeks as she made her complete recovery.
She also assisted her in securing excellent orthopedic care for an unusual and painful shoulder injury and the essential physical therapy to insure her recuperation. As worried parents hundreds of miles away, it was a godsend to find Guatemala Medical Travel and we are ever indebted to Lori for her professionalism, her ability to secure appointments in a timely fashion, her kindnesses to our daughter, her thoughtfulness in communicating with me during Sophie’s difficult times as well as for the access she afforded Sophie to state of the art diagnostic and treatment approaches for both an infectious disease and an orthopedic injury.
I strongly recommend GMT to anyone seeking medical care in a more affordable setting but also for those who find themselves in Guatemala needing medical care.
-- Amy, Massachusetts
While trying to research local doctors to treat my infection and injury, I found Guatemala Medical Travel. With years of research behind them, GMT knows all the best doctors in Guatemala. They set up my appointments, drove me into the city, helped in the recovery process, and invited me to stay in their beautiful guest house. I had probably $15,000 worth of laboratory tests done, saw 7 doctors, and began physical therapy, all for about $2,000 in the week I was in Antigua. Every doctor treated me like a human, took interest in my case, and spoke English fluently. The doctors were up to par if not better than ones I have experienced in the US. I got an hour with each for a fraction of the price I would have paid in the States.
Lori and the rest of the staff at GMT made me feel safe, welcome, and healthy again. GMT is an amazing agency here in Antigua- a quaint city that is surrounded by the most beautiful volcanoes! After doing some research about GMT I found that they mostly do major surgeries and other massively expensive medical procedures that are plaguing the US. What a genius idea! I had a great experience here at GMT and would highly recommend their services to anyone- traveler or not- who needs to get high quality health care at a low price.
-- S.H., Boulder, CO
(Working with GMT) … is a wonderful way to experience top notch medical care within budget and enjoy a unique cultural emersion with sites of ancient and historical value. Both aspects of GMT offer a cohesive relationship for physical and spiritual healing. The staff is well versed in the locations and a wealth of information to set your mind at ease for security, safety and knowledge. You are in caring, responsible hands. Everyone is most accommodating, and the serene setting makes the transition of culture very comfortable and enjoyable. I hope to make annual returns for check-ups and to see more of this breathtaking country.
-- Kathleen B., Cayman Islands
WOW! I’m 75, and that beats anything I ever had in a GYN experience. He was thorough and professional and not hard to look at! But besides that, I got a 4-D ultrasound of my vagina, boobs, ovaries, bladder, liver & kidneys!! I'm in good shape for the shape I'm in. He & I discussed future needs, incorporating some drugs that my GP recommended, plus some additional ones, and he is planning to revamp me into a 50 year old, sexually! Good trick if he can pull it off. I'll be seeing him again in 6 weeks. Thank you so much!
--Judy, Antigua, Guatemala
I came to Guatemala Medical Travel with a need for some diagnostic procedures. My experience with the physician Lori recommended was excellent. From the introductory consultation to the follow-up, Dr. Pasarrelli was a excellent doctor, and the facilities he used were of the best quality too. I was so impressed that I approached Lori to see if I could help her build her business; so here I am. This is truly one of the best health care values going!
--John V., Santa Cruz, CA
I communicated with my doctor on the phone from home regarding my terrible headaches and my local doctor’s diagnosis. When I arrived in Guatemala City, I went directly to the doctor’s office where I had a complete physical exam, blood tests and CT scan within a few hours. By 4pm the doctor was discussing the results of those lab reports and diagnostic exams with me. My exam, testing and treatment were done in one day for around $300. I would expect at least a week and $1500 for the same service in America.
--B.H. from Philadelphia
I had my eye surgery done at Vision Integral in Guatemala City. After my initial exam and a brief wait, I had every question answered and procedure explained, then had a second exam done with computerized high-tech machines to verify. The surgery was smooth, quick and painless. At the follow-up he noticed that my retina had changed after many years of wearing contact lenses and he was able to adjust the vision correction.... a real pro. I had three office visits and two operations for about $500 – unbelievable.
--MEB, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Thanks again for everything. I really appreciate your help. It set my mind at ease to hear that I didn't need surgery and that my situation wasn't as serious as I thought it might have been. I didn't realize how much it had been weighing on me. All the symptoms are improving so far, I'm a lot more comfortable, and I am following the doctor's advice. He was a sweetheart, just like you said.
-- Ayana H., San Francisco
I came to Guatemala for dental work after being in significant discomfort for a few months. Dr. Sami and his staff were professional, punctual, courteous and kind and they fixed my problem.
I left Antigua pain free, with a beautifully smooth crown and no further discomfort. It was a wonderful experience, and Lori made the process of getting there seamless, simple and stress free!! Between the money exchange, cell phones and personalized service, I cannot emphasize how much the experience was top shelf from the beginning to the end. I have and will continue to recommend GMT to friends, family and patients, should they need medical services of the highest caliber for the fraction of the price. Kudos to you Lori, and your vision of affordable, high quality health care for those in need.
-- Lilah Brand, MS, PT
Great service. Professional and friendly. I had no worries under GMT. Doctors all spoke English, and the care and technology are better than I have found in the US. Lori and her staff are the best. The cost of care has been significantly reduced as compared to what I was quoted in the US. I would recommend GMT without a doubt. The town Antigua has been quite interesting and the Guatemalan people are very friendly.
-- Kathe, Ft. Myers, Florida