Butler senior Ryan Salvino says he left Costa Rica a changed man. He came away from a weeklong research trip in summer 2010 more appreciative of the small things in life: having money in his pocket, warm showers, a comfortable bed and food on the table.
The Costa Ricans he interacted with came away with something life-changing, too: vital medical care.
Salvino went to Costa Rica with his father, podiatrist Kevin Salvino, and Marie Yahiro, a pre-med student at the University of Notre Dame, to research the most common kinds of foot fungus found there and how it differs from what’s seen in the United States.
They visited five areas and took about 100 samples from patients who’d experienced foot problems. They had the samples analyzed at a lab and were able to determine the cause of most of the foot infections as well as the most effective treatments. That information can help other foot doctors who work in Costa Rica.
They found that Costa Ricans often pick up infections by walking on fungus-laden soil either without shoes or from wearing low-quality footwear, Ryan said.
When the Salvinos and Yahiro returned home, Kevin contacted the APMA News, the publication of the American Podiatric Medical Association, to see if it would be interested in their findings. The magazine was. They were asked for a summary of the trip and the research.
Ryan didn’t expect anything, but “they emailed back and said, ‘Can we get pictures?’ ” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, they’re actually thinking of publishing this.’ ”
Their findings were published in the October 2011 APMA News.
“I was pretty excited when this came out,” he said.
Ryan, an organizational communication and leadership/biology major, has been on a number of mission trips, starting with two weeks in Belize as a sophomore in high school. There, he was part of a group that helped set up a camp for kids in the rainforest. He loved the joy they expressed over the work he and his fellow students did.
Since then, he’s taken more mission trips, one to Ecuador, and three to Costa Rica. This most recent trip to Costa Rica was his first done strictly for research.
He’s now in the process of applying to medical school and thinking about studying either podiatry or osteopathy. He’s not sure which.
He is sure, though, that he’ll continue to make medical mission trips.
“When people come in and they’re just looking for a normal checkup with a doctor, they’re so appreciative,” he said. “Even if they’re perfectly healthy, they’re glad to have someone looking after them. That is just amazing to see.”