I’m Del Mount, and I’m one of the plastic surgeons on the
Interplast trip to Cusco. I really want to thank our donors, especially
Ronald McDonald House Charities, the sponsors of this trip. It seems to be a small world when I donate to
RMHC and then RMHC ends up supporting our mission here! Today we saw so many children who are in need
of surgery. My colleague, Dr. Simone
Topal, and I consult together on each and every case before scheduling them - to
make sure that both of us are comfortable performing the surgeries.
One thing that is always difficult about clinic day is determining what surgeries we can realistically do for the patients, especially if they have more than one condition. Here you’ll see a picture of Carlos, the cutest little boy who came in with his parents for a cleft palate and deformities of his hands and feet. Carlos is 18-months old, and has difficulty eating because of his wide open palate. His hands have multiple fingers fused together (syndactyly), but his right hand is more serious because of fusion between his thumb and forefinger, which is causing a major deformity of his fingers. Without correction, Carlos won’t be able to write, play baseball, or comb his hair. Because of his multiple anomalies, he will require numerous reconstructions of his palate and hands in the future. So Carlos was scheduled for surgery immediately.
Unfortunately, Carlos’s surgery was cancelled because of severe iron-deficient anemia, making surgery very risky. His parents told me that because of his cleft palate, it is very difficult for him to eat solid foods, so he still drinks milk for the majority of his calories. And, at his age, this is not enough for him to get the iron, vitamins, and calories he needs. But, our pediatrician counseled his parents about nutrition, and how they can introduce more substantial items into his diet. He will be scheduled again next year when the team returns (Interplast comes to Cusco every year around the same time), so hopefully he will be strong enough for surgery next year.
In the meantime, Interplast is piloting an iron supplement
program at four sites around the world, giving parents iron supplements for the
children to take three months before Interplast returns to their country the
following year. Using handheld computers
donated by palmOne (and formerly Handspring), we can input data about
cancellations due to iron deficiencies for our database back at the
office. We hope to track whether the
pilot program makes a difference, and whether we can expand it to all of our
sites, so no more children - like Carlos - in desperate need of reconstruction
have to wait another year for surgery.
Tonight, Simone and I are going to get together to
strategize for tomorrow, our first day of surgery. I’ll tell you more about the scheduling of
cases next week. And just a final note -
the cheese here is almost as good as at home in Wisconsin! GO BADGERS!