I am Michael Flynn, and I am one of the anesthesiologists on this trip. Today, I was the anesthesiologist on a very touching case to treat a young boy named Joel. He is an adorable 7-year old boy with major burns on his neck and arm causing contractures that prevented him from looking up or raising his left arm.
I’m Simone Topal, the other plastic surgeon on this Interplast trip. Around 3pm today, I was called aside by Archana between surgeries. I went out to meet Ocdulia, who was waiting with her mother outside of the operating room. She has a cleft lip.
Ocdulia is nine years old, and it took her 10 hours to get here -- five hours walking, and another five by truck. She and her mother only speak Quechua, so one of the relatives of another patient (who was in the operating room for a burn procedure) helped us translate from Spanish. I explained the operation to her and obtained her mother’s consent to operate. Ocdulia has two brothers and two sisters, and attends school in her village. She had never left her village or met a doctor before, so she told the translator to tell me that she was very scared.
The level of her mother’s trust to be able to give over her own daughter to us without ever having been in a hospital before is amazing to me. Michael Flynn, the anesthesiologist I worked with on this case, observed that she went to sleep without crying, even though she had revealed how scared she was.
Normally we aren’t able to take last-minute patients like this, but since Del and I had set a rather light schedule for our first day of surgery, it was possible to add Ocdulia on. We felt like it was important, especially because she and her family had come such a long way and it would be difficult for them to return next week or even next year.
I bring my iPod on trips so that I can listen to music in
the OR – the “Girl from Ipanema” was playing as I completed Ocdulia’s surgery. It reminded me of what a lovely little girl
Ocdulia is, and I hope that she will be fully accepted into her community when
she returns home later this week. Although when you look at her, all you hear
is “El Condor Pasa”—she is pure campesino.
I’m so appreciative that I can give back in this way. I remember visiting the Dibner Fund in Connecticut, and thanking them for sponsoring the fellowship for the past five years – it is generating plastic surgeons like me, who will be dedicated to Interplast’s work for the rest of our lives. Good night from Cusco, Peru!