This post is written by Ding, an English major at Southern China University who is one of our local volunteers. He speaks the local dialect, and is willing to do whatever is needed to help out the team. Since he spends a lot of time with the patients and their families, I asked him to write a post to share his perspective, since the rest of the team is often so busy in the operating room and the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU):
"About 1,500 years ago, many Chinese historical books recorded quite a few cleft lip operations. Back then a man named Yongzhi Wei was born with a cleft, and by the time he was 18, he felt very frustrated because of his deformity. Yongzhi Wei has his cleft repaired, and went on to became a senior official in feudal China, which is equivalent to the office of prime minister today. Yuqiang Dai, who is said to be one of the four best tenors in the world, also used to have a cleft lip. After being operated on, he achieved great things, proving that a correctable birth deformity does not sentence one to a life of misery.
Many children in China have this defect. When born, some of them might be abandoned, girls in particular. Some of them might not be well treated by their parents. They might also be laughed at by other children. It is very bad for them to grow up with a healthy mind and a deformed face, because they feel like everyone else even though they look so different. People in very remote areas do not realize why this defect occurs. Some even think that it is because the mother might have eaten rabbit meat during the pregnancy!
I never knew of Interplast until the day before yesterday. The doctors in the team travel around the world, operating on people with clefts. Now they are here, in Beibei district, Chongqing, China. Many parents have brought their children here to receive treatment, and I am very impressed by what the doctors have done.
Today I talked with one of the patients. The boy said he wanted to learn English after the surgery. He insisted while he was waiting outside the clinic that i should teach him a few English words so that he could say hello to the doctor and thank him/her after the surgery".