In 2011, a group of physicians, nurses, surgical technicians, and other health care providers working together at Dell Children’s Medical Center determined that they wanted to help those children who were not as fortunate as the children who walked through the doors of our beautiful Austin hospital. We partnered with the Shalom Foundation, a non-profit organization that had built a pediatric surgery center in Guatemala City, Guatemala. In December of 2012, our group gathered the enormous inventory of supplies and personnel necessary to operate in Guatemala, and we set out on our first trip to the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center in Guatemala City. We were able to help 60 children on that trip with a variety of general surgical and urologic problems. The huge smiles and expressions of appreciation from the children and the parents after surgery had a powerful impact on our group to do more. Why shouldn’t these children get the care they need? From that moment on, we were committed to providing surgical care to children in Guatemala.
Since our First Trip
The wheels began turning, and fundraising activities began to raise money for future trips. Through the philanthropy of country music star, George Strait, local individual supporters, and an ambitious student organization at the University of Texas Austin (AED), we were able to put together the supplies and staffing for two trips a year to Guatemala. New physician volunteers joined the bandwagon, and many surgical specialties were added including orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, hand surgery, otolaryngology, general and urology surgery. We have teamed up with local Guatemalan physicians and surgeons to make sure that appropriate follow up care is provided and to ensure that our surgical outcomes are as good as they would be in the United States. Since our first trip in 2011, we have helped close to 1000 children. Working with the staff of the Moore Center, we have developed a first class surgical center in this underserved region. The educational activities we provide to local physicians, students, and health care providers is helping to build a more sustainable healthcare system. While the bulk of our work has been at the Moore Center, OKD continues to explore other opportunities in other countries to help with the surgical care of children.
Where we are now
Prior to 2017, our group was previously known as Dell Children’s Surgical Global Outreach. As our ranks grew, and a larger administrative and fundraising structure was needed, we established a relationship with the Austin Community Foundation. This move enabled us to utilize the tools and educational assets of Austin Community Foundation, to make our group stronger and financially secure. We continue to exist as a sub-group of Austin Community Foundation, utilizing their 501c status to remain tax-exempt and their efficient processes to conduct our finances. In 2019 , we rebranded our group as Operation KidDocs and have worked hard to make our web presence and fundraising efforts better, adding additional non-medical community members to our board to help us with outreach and development.
We are surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, techs, pediatric medical support and volunteers whose goal is to bring surgical care to underserved children in other countries.
George Seremetis, MD
Co-Founder and Past PresidentRead Bio
Dr. Seremetis was born in New York City & grew up in Greece, France, NYC, & Washington DC. He attended college at Brandeis U & competed in fencing. He received an MS & MD from Georgetown University then did a General Surgery & Urology Residency at Dartmouth & Pediatric Urology fellowship at Northwestern U. He took a year off while at Dartmouth & worked at an Afghan refugee center in Pakistan (1988-1989) and has been working in Austin since 1995. Dr. Seremetis has been head of the Pediatric Ethics Committee, the Chief of the Surgery Council, & the Chief of Staff at Dell Children’s Medical Center over the past 2 decades! He has been on a mission trip to Kenya & on 7 trips to Guatemala and was one of the founding members of OKD.
John Williams, MD
Dr. John Williams, MD is a pediatric orthopedic specialist and currently serves as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics in Austin, TX. As a graduate of Dartmouth-Brown Medical School, he has been practicing for over 30 years and specializes in general pediatric orthopedics, pediatric spine disorders, and congenital abnormalities.
He has previously served as the Chief of Orthopedic Trauma at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and currently serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Dell Medical School’s Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) as well as a Member of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America (POSNA).
Tory Meyer, MD
Co-Founder and TreasurerRead Bio
Dr. Tory Meyer is a Pediatric Surgeon with Austin Pediatric Surgery specializing in the care of neonatal and pediatric patients. He grew up in Chappaqua, New York, attended Yale and Columbia University and has lived in Austin, TX since 2000. He has served previously as the Surgery Department Chair, the Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Pediatric Leadership Board at Dell Children’s Medical Center. He has also been on the Board, and former President, of the Hill Country Conservancy and is a present Board Member of Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, dedicated to getting children out into nature. Dr. Meyer has been with OKD since its inception and feels honored to be able to help take care of these deserving children. In addition to spending time with his wife and kids, Dr. Meyer brews beer, mountain bikes, and flies a paramotor.
Rachel Parrish, RN
Board MemberRead Bio
Rachel is a registered nurse who grew up in Southeast Texas. She has been a nurse for 27 years and has worked in various aspects of nursing over her career. Over the last 12 years she has been an OR nurse at a pediatric surgery center in Austin. Her passion is working with children and especially those who are less fortunate. Rachel has also started her own jewelry business and has donated a portion of her profits to OKD. Her hobbies include traveling,reading, and shopping.
Dan Ernst, MSN, CRNA
Board MemberRead Bio
I have been on 8 medical missions to the Moore Center in Guatemala as our organization evolved from a very small dedicated group called Dell Children’s Surgical Global Outreach (DCSGO) to the now high functioning Operation KidDocs. My role as a Board Member is to assemble Anesthesia Teams to deliver the same complex anesthesia care as we provide here at home in Austin. I am currently the Chief Pediatric Anesthetist at Dell Children’s Medical Center and USAP Anesthesia in Austin. My continued mission is to maintain the support of our dedicated Anesthesiologists and Nurse Anesthetists as we further share our skills and continue the journey for all of the children for whom we care. “Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.” *Brian Tracy
Kent Jones, MD
Vice PresidentRead Bio
Dr. Jones is an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat) who practices at Austin Regional Clinic. He sees adult and pediatric patients, with a particular interest in obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Jones grew up in Jacksonville, Illinois. He majored in biology as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with honors in 1985. He attended medical school at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, graduating in 1989. Graduate medical training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery was also done at Northwestern, completing his residency in 1994.
Dr. Jones initially went into practice in general otolaryngology in Yakima, Washington. In 1998 he moved with his family to Austin, Texas, joining Austin Regional Clinic. Dr. Jones is currently the chief of the Ear, Nose, and Throat Department at Austin Regional Clinic.
Dr. Jones did his first surgical mission to Guatemala in 2015. It was a rich, fulfilling experience that he was determined to repeat. He went on trips again in 2016 and 2018. He joined the board of Operation Kid Doc in 2017.
Sheri Valencia, RN, NP
Board MemberRead Bio
Sheri Valencia is a native Californian who settled in the great state of Texas in 2009. She has called California, Texas, and Illinois home over the years. Sheri earned her associates degree in nursing at Palomar College, her Bachelors in Nursing at UT Arlington and her Masters as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Maryville University. When Sheri moved to the Austin area she continued her passion for surgery at Dell Children’s Medical Center, with experience in adults, critical care, pediatrics, hospice and cardiac care. Sheri comes from a long family lineage of medical professionals; her grandmother was a midwife along with multiple cousins who are physicians and nurses. Starting in 2012 she went on her first mission trip to Guatemala with Dell Children’s Surgical Global Outreach (now OKD) and has never looked back. She has a passion to work with the underserved and underprivileged and finds it very rewarding. Currently Sheri splits her time between Dell Children’s Medical Center and working locally as a Nurse Practitioner. Sheri spends her free time with her husband Marc and their two daughters Kayla and Krista.
Wayne Porter, MD
Board Member, Co-founderRead Bio
Wayne was born May 29, 1940, in Houston, Texas and raised in Baytown, Texas. After earning a football scholarship which was quickly changed to track, he graduated from UT, Austin with a BA. in Zoology. He received an MA and MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. After joining the army his senior year of medical school, he then spent 7 years in the US Army, which included Army Special Forces training S.F medics, and anesthesia residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
After starting his adult anesthesia practice in Austin in 1974, Wayne did fellowship training in pediatric anesthesia at Denver Children’s and Sick Kids in Toronto and spent the next 25 years providing anesthesia for the children of Central Texas. With an interest in helping others, Wayne began joining surgical mission trips in 1985 with multiple different medical groups. Wayne was one of the founding doctors for the group of health care professionals that ultimately became Operation Kid Docs and was part of their inaugural trip to the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center in 2012.
Teaching has been Wayne’s passion throughout his practice and continues at the Moore Center, helping teach medical students, attendings and residents in Guatemala. He has been a runner for many years and then found the sport of Inline skating. Inline skating has been his main mode of exercise and enjoyment for the last 30 years.
Julie Sanchez, MD
Board MemberRead Bio
Dr. Julie Sanchez is a pediatric surgeon in Austin, Texas. She is also a co-founder of Abilitee Adaptive Wear, an online adaptive clothing company. She attended the University of Texas as an undergraduate and obtained her medical doctorate degree in 1993 from The University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School at Dallas.
Dr. Sanchez then completed her General Surgery and Pediatric Surgery training at The State University of New York in 1998. Her interest in Pediatric Trauma took her to Johns Hopkins where she completed a Pediatric Trauma and Research Fellowship. Shortly after arriving in Austin, she succeeded in obtaining a national grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and established the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Austin and became the lead physician for Austin Safe Kids Coalition. This was the birth of the first Injury Prevention program in Austin, Texas.
In 2011, she joined a group of colleagues and founded Dell Children’s Surgical Global Outreach (DCSGO) which ultimately became Operation KidDocs (OKD). Dr. Sanchez is actively involved in her community and believes in the power of mentorship and education. She continues to pay-it-forward by continuing to serve as an active board member of OKD
Board Member and Administrative DirectorRead Bio
For the past 22 years, Leilani has worked in the Operating Room as a Surgical Technologist specializing in pediatrics. She is grateful and honored to give back by volunteering for over 20 years on countless International Surgical Mission trips. As a Board Member and Director of Operation KidDocs, her goal is to bring first world surgical care to the deserving population of the developing countries we visit. She is proud to volunteer alongside a group of dedicated volunteers coming out of her hometown of Austin, as well as other cities within Texas. In her spare time, Leilani loves to drive the countryside and take photos of the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Board MemberRead Bio
Rocio Balderas moved to Austin before she was a year old to attend University of Texas, which she ultimately did, and later Baylor University for graduate school. She lived in the Mexican Caribbean for about 10 years, and returned to Austin so her son could grow up in Austin too. She is a Senior Account Executive for Encompass Health’s Home Health Division where she has worked for 17 years. She is honored to be on the board of OKD as it allows her passion for healthcare to extend to the children of Central America. Having the opportunity to help communities she holds close to her heart and working alongside people who are passionate about the health and wellbeing of these children is inspiring and very meaningful. She has been on one medical mission to Peru and looks forward to many more.
Stanford Young, MD
Board MemberRead Bio
Stanford Young MD is an affiliate faculty member for the Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care at Dell Med and is a partner in US Anesthesia Partners. He earned his M.D. from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in 1993. After completing his residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, he completed his pediatric anesthesia fellowship at George Washington University’s Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Dr Young began practicing with Capitol Anesthesiology Association in December 1999. He is a member of multiple medical organizations including the Travis County Medical Society, the American and Texas Medical Associations and the Society of Pediatric Anesthesia. Dr Young is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Areas of interest include medical information technologies and data management. He has participated in multiple medical mission trips in many parts of the world. He is proud to be a member of Operation KidDocs which is the latest greatest non-profit organization from Austin fulfilling the surgical needs of kids in developing countries.
Board MemberRead Bio
Wanda has been a surgical technician for more than 22 years and is one of the founding members of our organization. Someone once told her that “to make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, or beautiful. You just have to care.” Her first trip to Guatemala was the most rewarding,humbling, touching experience she had ever experienced. These children have so little and the most common surgeries performed back home were life changing for them. She realized on that first trip that not only did we provide free medical services to low income and underserved communities, but we were a Beacon of Light and hope for people who often feel abandoned and forgotten about. There is something about giving back and helping that always gives her an overwhelming sense of reward: After the first trip she was all in and Wanda has helped coordinate the equipment and supplies for every single trip since then. She has a hard time putting into words what these trips do for her heart. She thought she went to Guatemala to save children’s lives, but instead they saved hers.
Board MemberRead Bio
Megan Roberts was born and raised in Austin, Texas. After earning a degree in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M she studied at UT Health in San Antonio where she became a Physician Assistant in 2015. During her education she served as a volunteer, then a student leader, of the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic. Her career started in Emergency Medicine at a Level 1 Trauma center in San Antonio, University Hospital. She joined the Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedic practice in 2017 where she still treats pediatric trauma patients at Dell Children’s Medical Center. Her first trip to the Moore center was with the Orthopedic and Plastics trip in the spring of 2019. Megan is grateful for an opportunity to serve Operation Kid Docs and joined the board in 2020.
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