On November 8, 2014, Dr. J. Marcus Downs and his wife, Carol Lee, headed to Ecuador to participate in a medical mission trip with Medical Ministry International—the ninth time they have done so. Carol Lee is a physical therapist, and Dr. Downs is a Colorectal Surgeon. They began their service in Ecuador twelve years ago, and most of their trips have included their children, Colleen and Brian. However, this year’s trip was special, since Colleen graduated from medical school in 2013 and was having her first mission medicine experience as a physician.
Colleen is a second year pediatrics resident at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and she saw 20-30 patients a day during her two-week stay. During previous mission trips, she acted as a general helper, medical assistant and translator.
The family visited Cotacachi, a small town north of Quito located in the Andes, very near the Equator. As is usual for this mission group, each day was spent in a different village. The team consisted of three physicians, two physical therapists, two nurses and a dozen other people acting as general helpers and as translators. The participants were about evenly divided between Americans and Canadians. The medical director, Dr. Susan Logacho, is Ecuadorian and acts as medical director for most MMI activities in Ecuador.
Ecuador and MMI have become a family affair for the Downs family. Many family members have attended these trips before, including Dr. Downs’ mother, aunt, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. Over the years, several other teenagers have joined them, most pursuing medical careers. Most have been on multiple trips; all have grown seeing medicine practiced in an intimate and spiritual environment.
The Downs family hopes to continue mission medicine and go on similar family trips in the future. While every trip has provided many opportunities for service and for growth, this year’s special trip allowed Carol Lee Downs, Dr. Colleen Downs Edge and Dr. J. Marcus Downs to enjoy helping patients side by side for the first time.