I’m Kay Neal, the team leader of this Interplast surgical trip to Cusco. I’ve been volunteering with Interplast as an operating room nurse since 1986, and have traveled to Jamaica, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, and Mexicali with Interplast teams. This is my first time to Cusco, Peru, and so far it’s been amazing. The town is so charming, and our hotel is perfect for having lots of team meetings, just as I like it! Spending time together over dinner or the famous local drink, the Pisco Sour, allows all of us to work together better as a team over the two weeks to come.
Today was clinic day, when we examine all the children who are in need of surgery and create the first iteration of the surgery schedule. It’s a three-step process that I oversee as team leader. First, the child sees one of our team secretaries with his or her parent(s) to collect basic information. Then, the surgeons examine the child to see if the surgery is possible and safe over the coming two weeks, and to explain the risks and benefits of surgery. Unfortunately, this is the first place that a child can be turned away from surgery – usually because the surgery is too complicated for such a short period of time, or because it falls outside of Interplast’s mission to provide reconstructive plastic surgery (and not orthopedic or other types of surgery). The medical supplies that we bring down also can limit the kinds of surgeries we can do. Finally, the child sees the team pediatrician and anesthesiologists to make sure he or she is fit for surgery. In other words, we make sure the child has enough iron/hemoglobin, does not have a cold or other upper respiratory problems, and weighs enough for his or her age to withstand anesthesia and surgery.