Shorna's eyes and smile capture you. She is a beautiful 5 year old. A little less than a year ago, Shorna had a dish towel hanging from her arm that caught the flame of the family's oil lamp, their only source of light in their home. Instantly, her arm was engulfed in flames, her mother explained to us. The result was a horrible wound and Shorna being pulled from school, where she was in her first year. And now, she suffers from a burn contracture that will not allow her to straighten her arm. The Interplast team has scheduled her for surgery to release her contracture and give her greater freedom of movement.
Before Interplast starts surgery, team members discuss the protocols and procedures in case an emergency happens. Dr. Fred Mihm, volunteer anesthesiologist, leads the team through the “scenarios,” the established emergency protocols set by Interplast medical advisory committees over the years.
Dr. Jean La Belle uses every moment possible as an opportunity to teach. “Education is our focus. It’s why we come,” said La Belle. Interplast works to increase the supply of trained doctors who care for the poor year-round in some of the most underserved regions of the world.
After the surgeons examine patients to see if reconstructive surgery is an appropriate treatment, Dr. Mary Hermann, volunteer pediatrician, and Drs. Scott Douglass and Marshall Jones, volunteer anesthesiologists, evaluated the patients to see if they would be healthy enough for safe surgery. Pictured here is Dr. Marshall Jones with a potential patient.
Unfortunately, some of the children were not healthy enough for surgery, like this little girl. Hopefully, with iron supplements for her anemia, her health will improve and she will be able to have surgery to repair her hand.
At clinic, Dr. Sally Langley (bottom right) and Dr. Jean La Belle examined 60 patients to decide if surgery would be appropriate for their hand injuries and deformities. Many of the residents observed and discussed the cases.
Dr. Shafquat Khundkar, Interplast’s surgical outreach director, introduces the plastic surgery residents to the Interplast team. Approximately 8-10 residents will be receiving hands-on training and lectures for complicated hand surgeries, while observing and working with volunteer surgeons Dr. Sally Langley and Dr. Jean La Belle.
Eleven medical volunteers, two coordinator / translators and I arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh to provide free reconstructive surgery for children and adults with hand injuries.
Dr.Shafquat Khundkar, Interplast's surgical outreach director, met us at the airport. Khundkar (center) is talking with Nancy Chee, volunteer hand therapist and team leader, and Dr. Jean La Belle, volunteer plastic surgeon. Nancy and several of the other volunteers are returning to Bangladesh, having been here with Interplast in 2003, 2004 and/or 2005. Interplast was not able to come last year because of the political unrest associated with the student protests.