Honduras is a beautiful tropical country within Central America and is wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is a democratic country with approximately 8 million citizens, and its capital and largest city is Tegucigalpa. The capital name comes from the languages of the Central American native populations and translates to “Silver Hills.”
In December, I had the pleasure of joining Analia Castellanos, M.D., and her father, Plutarco Castellanos, M.D. at Analia’s family home outside Lexington. She is a member of the nephrology faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Her father is a nephrologist in Honduras. Plutarco retired from the public practice of nephrology at the Social Security Hospital in Tegucigalpa in 2002. From 1998 to 2002, he was Minister of Public Health for Honduras. He is currently in full-time nephrology practice in Tegucigalpa, and he spreads his time among internal medicine and general nephrology.
The Castellanos are truly a “medical” family. Plutarco has three in-laws who are physicians. Analia’s paternal grandfather was a physician, as is her paternal uncle and older brother. She and three other physicians in her extended family practice as residency-trained nephrologists. She was born in Honduras and came to Cincinnati in 2000, with her husband and 9-month-old daughter, to begin her post-medical school training. After Analia completed her residency in Cincinnati, she then completed a fellowship in nephrology at the University of Kentucky in 2005. She currently serves as a transplant nephrologist at the medical school. She is one of three nephrologists at the University of Kentucky within the Kidney Transplant Program.
Analia’s father, Plutarco, was instrumental in developing a renal transplant program in Honduras. In 1987, the first cadaver kidney transplant was performed in Honduras, and apparently it is the only one to date, as since that time Honduras has been able to provide live donors. With Analia’s help, the University of Kentucky Nephrology Department has been instrumental in helping Honduras develop tissue matching, histocompatibility studies, etc. Guatemala also has been of significant assistance to Honduras in these regards. Most Hondurans needing renal transplant come from large families, which is an advantage in that country, as relatives have been very supportive of renal transplantation and usually provide live donors for their loved ones. This, of course, increases the probability of tissue and histocompatibility matching.
Analia told me that U.K. provided 92 renal transplants in 2014, and for 2015, the number will probably be approximately 90. She and her colleagues in the Renal Transplant Program at U.K. hope to build the annual transplant numbers to approximately 100 patients. Moreover, it is hoped that the relationship between the University of Kentucky Department of Nephrology and nephrologists in Honduras can grow, and that eventually the University of Kentucky will be able to provide onsite training to Honduran physicians wishing to pursue transplant nephrology.
It was a remarkable experience to engage with father and daughter in the daughter’s home and learn of the significant contributions of this family to medical care in Honduras. Plutarco was obviously quite proud of his daughter. He has been a nephrologist since approximately 1971. He trained in internal medicine at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester and completed his fellowship in nephrology at the Cleveland Clinic before returning to Honduras. In the 1980s, Plutarco was involved in the establishment and development of a knowledge base for nephrology in Latin America through the Central American Society of Neurology. However, over time, this society has dwindled through attrition, and he is hoping to be of assistance in building interest in the development of a nephrology society for Central America again.
Outside of medicine, Analia is currently very involved with her daughters who are pursuing dance studies. The day of my interview, her daughters had just completed a ballet performance in Richmond, Ky. She and some of her siblings are very accomplished athletes. Analia remains a Honduran record-holder in swimming, and her two brothers swam for Honduras in the Olympics.
Analia and her father have obviously built a significant medical bridge between the Department of Nephrology at the University Of Kentucky College Of Medicine and their home country of Honduras. They plan to continue strengthening and building this bridge in hopes of improving medical care for renal patients in Honduras, and also they hope to build a stronger knowledge and training relationship between their country and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
By Robert P. Granacher, Jr., M.D., M.B.A.