Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Dangerous lobster diving practice in Honduras #427248
01/09/12 04:46 PM
01/09/12 04:46 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,836
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

Doctor's quest to save injured lobster divers


Dr. Elmer Mejia has dedicated his life to trying to save lobster divers severely injured with decompression sickness. The waiting area of his small clinic in La Ceiba, Honduras is often so packed with injured men that it resembles a combat clinic.

Dr. Mejia and his family work around the clock treating the divers, many of whom are paralyzed when they arrive. Often, Dr. Mejia serves as his own ambulance, racing to the port where the lobster boats dock to pick up the sick divers. He’s the only doctor in Honduras who specializes in treating the thousands of men who risk their lives diving for lobster on the ocean floor, most often without proper training or equipment.

“Without him, they’d have nothing, absolutely,” said Eric Douglas, a diving safety expert and author who has worked with Dr. Mejia.

He says the doctor has been able to cure divers even 4 or 5 days after they become paralyzed, something that most hyperbaric physicians thought was impossible.

“He does it without any desire for recognition. He just sees the need and wants to take care of his own people.” Douglas said.

Elmer Mejia grew up dirt poor in Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras. He became a Navy diver and medic, and in his early 20s volunteered to work at a clinic where he was exposed to the plight of the lobster divers for the first time. It was run by an Episcopal priest from Wyoming, Gus Sabrador, who became Mejia’s mentor and asked his American congregation to help Mejia go to medical school.

Mejia became a medical doctor with the mission of establishing a real clinic to help the divers, who are desperately poor and have no other medical care. He continued his studies in Texas where he was taught by a leading specialist in hyperbaric medicine, Dr. Caroline Fife. She says she was amazed by his determination to learn and succeed.

“He’s undaunted by impossible obstacles,” Dr. Fife said.

One seemingly impossible obstacle was to find – and get the money for – a hyperbaric chamber and get it to Honduras. The only way to cure decompression sickness and give paralyzed divers a chance to walk again is by using the chamber, but they can cost as much as $50,000., which was totally out of reach for the doctor. When Mejia heard that a used one was being refurbished in Virginia, he and his brother rented a truck and drove the two-ton chamber to Honduras themselves, a trip that took more than a week. Once again, the Episcopal parish in Wyoming helped raise money.

Today, the chamber creates miracles every day. Men who couldn’t walk often leave the chamber on their feet. Not everyone responds, unfortunately, and only newly injured divers are candidates for the treatment. The divers are poor and cannot pay but Dr. Mejia doesn’t turn anyone away. He says the only way he can stay in business is because he doesn’t pay his staff – everyone who works at the clinic is part of his family. Some of the boat owners help pay for the treatment of the divers, but the whole operation is run on a shoestring.

The devoted doctor says he’ll be there for the divers as long as they need him. He says he gets his satisfaction from seeing his patients, doomed to a life of paralysis without his help, get better and go home.

“I feel so pleased when they go back to normal, that is my payment,” Dr. Mejia said.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Re: Dangerous lobster diving practice in Honduras [Re: Marty] #427618
01/12/12 06:11 PM
01/12/12 06:11 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 462
cracked up Offline
cracked up  Offline
In the early 90's, this was epidemic. There were 2 hyperbaric chambers, 1 in Roatan, the other in the Moskitia, Awuas?. The lobster divers would do 4/5 100' dives a day, no stops, Red Lobster contracts. Looks like the practice hasn't changed.
The villages/towns along the coast are full of young guys in wheelchairs.
Very sad and preventable

Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
Maruba Beach Klub and Spa is the premiere Secret Beach spa and restaurant located on the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea at the center of Secret Beach, Belize
First Class Accommodations for the Budget Traveler
First Class Accommodations for the Budget Traveler

Things to do
Specials & Events
SPTB Calendar of Events

Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Love FM
The Reporter
TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
To Get Your Questions Answered

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
Cayo Event Calendar

San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Belize Happy Adventures
Conch Creative
Caribbean Culture & Lifestyle
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We handle all aspects of the purchase of your Real Estate in Belize. From in depth property searches to your final closing.
Click for Ian Anderson's Caves Branch, Welcome to a World of Adventure
Lil Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
ShoutChat Box
Who's Online Now
2 registered members (Marty, bobcat bill), 85 guests, and 0 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Statistics
Most Online7,413
Nov 7th, 2021 HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.1