Heart surgeon Rafael Espada became the first physician to be elected vice president of Guatemala after he and President-elect Alvaro Colom earned 52.7% of the vote in the countrys Nov. 4 presidential election. The 63-year-old Espada has spent more than 30 years as a heart surgeon in Houston, and most recently served as deputy chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Methodist Hospitals DeBakey Heart Center.
A Guatemala native, Espada earned his medical degree at the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala City and trained under the noted heart surgeon Michael DeBakey in Houston. Espada maintained a relationship with Guatemala even as he lived in the U.S. He established Unidad Cardiovascular, Guatemalas first cardiac hospital.
In a news release, Espada said large numbers of Guatemalans are living in poverty, while a great many are also sick and dying. The two problems are not mutually exclusive, and solutions go hand-in-hand, he said. To address the nations healthcare problems, Espada plans to improve access to preventive medicine and clean drinking water, the news release said. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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