I want to end with the story of Jefferson, an incredibly cute 6-month old baby with a cleft lip and palate. Here is a photo of him from clinic day last week, dressed in the cutest denim overalls! We noticed that the parents often dressed their children in what may be their best outfits because the visit to the hospital is such an important day in their children’s lives. Everyone on the team found this little guy so adorable; we all pulled out their cameras to take pictures of him.
The surgery to repair his cleft lip was successful, and we hope to see this delightful little boy next year for palate surgery.
As we prepare to return to the United States, I can’t help but reflect on what an incredible two weeks it has been. This Interplast team has performed free surgeries to heal the bodies and change the lives of over 70 patients here in Cusco, Peru. It has been an amazing journey for all of us. We will all share many wonderful memories of the charming town of Cusco and our kind hosts in the Hospital Regional. Most of all, though, we treasure meeting the adorable children of Interplast, and their loving families and caretakers.
On behalf of the entire team, I want to express our profound gratitude to Ronald McDonald House Charities (“RMHC”), the generous sponsor of this life-changing trip to Cusco, Peru. Without their support – and the product donations of so many other companies – this trip could not have happened. From RMHC’s contributions to fully fund this trip (and several others this year), to the Ronald McDonald coloring books provided for the children in the waiting room, to the McDonald’s stickers that the children treasured as gifts on their way to the operating room, this entire trip has been an example of RMHC’s dedication to helping children around the world.
Finally, I personally feel so honored to have worked with such a dedicated group of professionals. I am so impressed by my fellow team members’ commitment, and the fact that each of them took two weeks out of their busy lives to give back to the world. I invite you to visit the Interplast website (www.interplast.org), and sign up for our mailing list to learn more about how you can help too.
Last night we had a farewell party with our hosts from El Hospital Regional in Cusco. About 30 of us had a wonderful evening at the restaurant, “El Sabor del Cusco” (“The Taste of Cusco) to thank our hosts and celebrate our achievements. Guests included doctors, nurses, and administrators who helped our team with obtaining operating room equipment, caring for patients on the wards, and pre-screening potential patients. Interplast relies on international partnerships like these in order to carry out our programs around the world.
Here is a photo of plastic surgeon Dr. Mario Cornejo with the director of El Hospital Regional del Cusco, and team leader Kay Neal, R.N. After Kay made a beautiful speech about our partnership with Dr. Cornejo and the hospital, the director presented Interplast with a lovely plaque commemorating our visit. One thing that Kay said rang especially true: “Over the past two weeks, we have changed the lives of many children who could not otherwise afford such care, but we have also experienced a transformation in our own lives as well.”
Two of Dr. Cornejo’s assistants, Rosa and Gilda (pictured here to my left and right), were dedicated to helping our team for the past two weeks. These two women were instrumental to our success because of their intricate knowledge of the hospital system and their loving care for the children who came for surgery.
All of us from the Interplast team want to express our deep appreciation to Dr. Cornejo, Rosa, Gilda, and all the others who welcomed us so graciously to Cusco…
He was such a well-mannered and gentle child, and blew kisses to everyone on the team. I was also impressed by Anderson’s father, who was incredibly caring for his son. I really appreciated how open he was with us about his son’s condition. He shared that Anderson’s cleft palate made eating a challenge since food could come out of his nose through the gap in the roof of his mouth.
Here is a photo of Anderson from rounds this morning, blowing kisses at us!
We first met Anderson on clinic day, wearing the cutest brown jumper. He is two years old, and Interplast fixed his cleft lip last year. On this trip, Anderson received free surgery for his cleft palate.
As the Associate Director of Foundation &
Corporate Relations for Interplast, I wanted to say a special thank you to all
the companies that donate so many medical supplies to Interplast for trips like
this one to Cusco. I have been amazed by the amount of medications,
sutures, needles, gloves, tubing, monitors, and so many other items, that have
been essential to the safety and quality of the surgeries we have provided
like the ones mentioned here have been incredibly generous to Interplast,
allowing us to use a greater portion of our budget toward providing even more
free surgeries around the world. Our new website (which will go live in
about a month or so) will have a special section honoring all of our partners,
where you can find out more about these wonderful corporate citizens…
This morning on rounds, we said goodbye to Luciana, our last child from the El Hogar Santa Teresa orphanage. She is the sweetest child – so sweet in fact that her nickname at the orphanage is “Galletita,” or “Little Cookie”! Here you’ll see a photo of her from clinic day last Monday – I love the tiny pigtails!
When I met Luciana on clinic day and also on the day of surgery, I was struck by her incredible curiosity about everything around her. Here is a photo of Luciana from rounds this morning with Jackeline, the incredible social worker from El Hogar. You’ll see Luciana gripping her medication in a typical display of her inquisitiveness!
Luciana was abandoned by her parents soon after she was born with a cleft lip and palate. Unfortunately, although this may sound extreme, Interplast has treated many children in the same situation. In fact, Luciana’s bilateral cleft lip was repaired by Interplast last year. Since she is just now starting to make sounds to speak, it was crucial that her cleft palate also be repaired soon.