Cusco, Peru - Sheila Wolfson, coordinator / translator: A 14 year old girl with a lovely disposition was waiting in the hallway for her surgery today. As I walked past her, I recognized her from my visit to Cusco in 2002. When I smiled, she smiled in return and it gave me a warm feeling inside.
Yesenia was burned in an alcohol fire many years ago and was not able to receive medical care after this tragic accident. Her mother tried treating her burns with herbs, but to no avail. She developed burn contractures on her wrists, hands and neck and had practically no range of motion in her neck, as it was fused to her chest.
In 2002, Yesenia and her mother came to Hospital Regional in Cusco when they heard the Interplast team would be arriving. She was eager to have the first of her skin graft operations to release these burn contractures.
When I saw her today, she had the ability to lift her head and her range of motion was greatly improved. It was touching when she said she no longer felt compelled to wear only turtlenecks to hide her thick scars from her classmates.
Former Interplast staff member Archana Sridhar was in Cusco in 2005 and saw firsthand how Yesenia hid under her turtlenecks.
What teenager would not feel self-conscious? Her favorite subject in school is art so we kept her occupied with art activities while she waited for her surgery. This year the surgeons will be releasing the scar contractures on the sides of her mouth allowing her even more mobility.