Meet Dr Maybell Nieves - in her own words:

"At a very young age I discover my great skills in manual activities. That's how I, eventually, became a surgeon.

I am an expert Breast and General Surgeon with over 10 years of experience in the operating theater.

I am the head surgeon of the Unit of Breast Disease of the University Hospital of Caracas. I am also in charge of academic and clinical activities of the students in our Breast Surgery Fellowship."

The more you know, the stronger you are.

There is nothing worse than to ignore what is happening to you.

Ask, investigate, read!

One of the first stages in overcoming a disease is to learn as much as you can about it.

Hi, my name is Maybell Nieves. I became a medical doctor in Caracas, Venezuela where I graduated from Universidad Central de Venezuela. After finishing a 3-year specialization in general surgery, I was offered the opportunity to study in Milan (Italy) at the prestigious European Institute of Oncology, under Professor Umberto Veronesi, the father of modern breast surgery.

The breast-conserving surgical techniques pioneered by the professor, which I also learned during my time there, have had an enormous impact on breast surgery outcomes. Every women who underwent breast surgery should probably thank Professor Umberto, as his methods were adopted by doctor all over the world saving many women from being mutilated needlessly.

In the years that followed I became one of the foremost medical figures in the fight against breast cancer in Venezuela. I am regularly attending talk-shows and conferences to raise awareness on the subject, even with all the censorship in place. Whenever I have the opportunity, I teach women a simple method to self-examine their breasts and spot any irregularities before it’s too late.  

But that is not my greatest contribution to the medical community. Due to severe staff shortages, after the economic crisis began, I was assigned more and more ER shifts.

Inside the emergency room, working as a front-line doctor, I’ve dealt with a whole range of conditions from gunshot wounds to heart attacks or diabetic comas, and everything in between. When we ran out of medications, medical supplies, electricity and even running water in my hospital, I’ve had to come up with new and ingenious methods to help my patients…using what we still had on hand or could procure: Antisepsis – Anaesthesia – Antibiotic Alternatives – Homemade Casts – Eye and Skin Remedies made from household items – Fungus Fighting Mixtures…and a lot of others.

These methods, which I’ve pioneered alongside my colleagues were quickly adopted throughout the country when many other hospitals began facing severe shortages.

Most of them do not require medical assistance and can be self-applied.  That makes these techniques extremely valuable if the medical system cannot be depended on, like during long term blackouts, or epidemics which push the medical system over the edge. You can find every one of these methods inside The Home Doctor: Practical Medicine for Every Household.

Outside the hospital and the many extra hours I work in my private practice, I love spending time with my dogs. You could say I’m a pathological dog lover. I also enjoy watching good movies. It’s the way I like to relax after a hard day at the hospital and it helps me disconnect from all the suffering I witness each day.

It is my ultimate hope that many other people, outside of Venezuela, will be able to take advantage of everything me and my colleagues discovered during our darkest hour. It would be such a shame if this vital knowledge, for which we paid a very steep price, would not reach the people who need it most in the next crisis.

Some of my diplomas and certifications:

Where I practiced what I preach:

  • Breast Surgeon at University Hospital of Caracas: Jan 2015 – Present

My unit manages around 300 surgeries annually of which 70% are oncology cases. I am also of the adjunct professor of Breast Surgery Fellowship of the Central University of Venezuela

  • General and Breast Surgeon at Esmeralda Surgical Unit: May 2015 – Present

I perform a series of surgical procedures like biopsies, fine needle aspiration cytology and surgeries together with my team.

  • Breast Surgeon Consultant at A. C. Senosalud: Oct 2011 – Jan 2018

I managed and specialized a team in early detection campaigns and programs

  • Breast Surgeon at Hospital Materno Infantil de Caricuao: Feb 2014 – 2016
  • Breast Surgeon at Centro Médico Quirúrgico San Ignacio: Jul 2013 – Jul 2014
  • Breast Surgeon at IEO Istituto Europeo di Oncologia (Milan, Italia): Jan 2011 – Oct 2012

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