Meet Maritza
Maritza smiling alongside OA volunteer marina Hartnick

Maritza is a young Salvadorian woman whom we first met in the clinic of our mission trip to El Salvador last year. 5 years ago, Maritza was the victim of a gunshot wound that resulted in the loss of her jaw.

Having been completely healthy prior to this incident, the experience drastically impacted her quality of life and self-esteem. Not only did the injury rob her of her ability to breathe on her own, leaving her dependent on her tracheostomy to live, but her children also never saw her face anymore because she always wore a mask in shame to conceal the disfigurement.

Maritza with OA volunteers

Maritza visits Operation Airway during a mission trip to El Salvador in January 

Maritza heard of Operation Airway and their mission to help patients around the world from a friend who had received medical care from us and came into contact with one of our mission coordinators. After hearing her moving story, we were determined to help Maritza get her life back.            

After much coordination and effort on behalf of local hospitals and colleagues, Operation Airway was able to raise the money and allocate the resources to fly Maritza and her sister Tatiana to the US to receive reconstructive surgery to rebuild her jaw. This surgery went incredibly well!

While she soon returned home, she came and visited us on our mission trip this past January to El Salvador, and we were able to successfully remove her trach.

Maritza with posing with doctors and nurses
Maritza smiling with staff and volunteers
Maritza with Dr. Christopher Hartnick and Kevin Callans

Her biggest wish now is for new teeth and we are trying to make this dream a reality. We are so happy to be a part of giving Maritza a new life and cannot wait to see all that she will accomplish!

If you would like to help Maritza receive her new teeth, contact Evelyn Zablah at Operation Airway for more information.


There are so many ways to contribute to the mission of Operation Airway.

Learn more about how you can help us…

Bring in the smiles!

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