After a wonderful weekend of relaxation in Vilcabamba, we’re back in Loja for a few more days of surgery. Today we performed three cleft palate repairs on young children, and performed a few burn reconstructions as well. The team is working extremely well together to start the second week, and seems to know just what everyone else needs. We finished at a reasonable hour and had a great dinner at a local restaurant that our pediatrician, Ken Bloome recommended since he came on the Interplast Loja trip last year. During dinner Jean Labelle figured out how many international missions our group has done over the years... it was incredible to learn that between every team member we’ve done 100 missions!
Our first case this morning was 3 1/2 year old Shylian. Dressed in her little jean dress with colorful bands decorating her hair, she eagerly awaited our arrival to the hospital. According to her mom she woke up this morning and said “I want to go to the hospital now and have my operation”. The doctors performed a frenulum release because she was having difficulty with correct movement and use of her tongue. The surgery was quick and upon waking up in the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) she decorated her hands, knees and face with stickers. What a delight! Upon leaving to go home, she said “gracias” and gave us kisses. A great end to a long but productive week. Now its off to Vilcambamba for a little team relaxation.
Well, it has been a difficult few days. The first two
days of surgery we had a couple kids who had some problems and kept us there
very, very late at night, but they did just fine in the end. Today was a better day. After working
out the kinks of the first couple days the team has bonded more and we’re
having fun. We’ve done over 20 surgeries already and the kids are
beautiful as usual. We have more work
than we can do so it’s been difficult as we’ve had to tell some of them we can’t
do their surgery.
I just got back from eating at a cuban restaurant followed
by some ice cream. Anyway, off to bed and to get some R&R this
weekend after another full day of surgery tomorrow...I hope to see more of
the country this weekend as it really seems beautiful.
Well, its been a busy, busy day. We started our
morning at 7am setting up the
operating rooms, recovery room and clinic. When we arrived there must
have been 500 people waiting…no exaggeration. About 200 were stragglers
in from elsewhere in the hospital that had to be weeded out immediately. The others were triaged and categorized by
diagnosis and then seen by our surgeons, anesthesiologists and pediatrician
before finally getting the okey dokey for surgery. Our coordinator-translators
were wonderful. We were a little rough going for the first five patients,
but after that the whole clinic ran smoothly. We saw 134 patients and
scheduled 66 of them. We will have a busy two weeks ahead.
Everyone worked well together. While my head nurse,
Carreen, was setting up our operating room with two beds in one room, I was
busy in clinic doing hemoglobin testing and photos for the chart. Then it
was my job as team leader to arrange food, water, narcotics and other drugs,
pharmacy items, distilled water for the autoclave and about 50 other tasks to
make the preparations for tomorrows start. I’m tired tonight...but not too
tired to go out and eat and have a few cervezas...not on call tonight!!!
After two days of traveling our team has made it to Loja, Ecuador. Despite four people not having clean clothing due to lost luggage and few hours of sleep, we rallied together to start clinic at 8 am this morning with great enthusiasm. Clinic was extremely busy as we saw 134 patients, but unfortunately were only able to schedule 66 patients for surgery. Many patients had to be turned away due to our schedule being completely booked for the two weeks.
One of our patients, 20-year old Andrea, came to have a bilateral cleft lip revision. The amazing part about was that Interplast has performed 16 surgeries on her over the years, with the first lip repair done at 3 months of age. Full of smiles and kind words, she welcomed us once again to Loja.
Note: This picture previously (and erroneously) went with this text about Maria. I have fixed it so this post is the correct story and picture of Andrea, and the other post is the correct story and picture of Maria. Sorry for the confusion.
Just a quick note from the Interplast staff. The Loja, Ecuador surgical volunteer team is doing some amazing work treating burn victims and repairing cleft lips and cleft palates. However, they are having some technical difficulties uploading pictures, so as soon as they can iron those out there will be some posts. The team has been working so hard at the hospital that they have not had enough time to fool with Ecuadorian internet cafes, but they feel confident that everything will be worked out in a couple of days. Keep checking!
My name is Dawn Jackson, and I am excited to be volunteering for Interplast on a surgical voluntter trip to Loja, Ecuador, where we will perform free reconstructive plastic surgery for poor children. With the trip to Loja, Ecuador only days away, team members from around the globe are busy preparing for the upcoming weeks. Many of us are leaving children, spouses, jobs and other responsibilities at home to spend two weeks trying to make a difference doing something we believe in. Being that this is my third trip with Interplast, images begin forming in my head about the children and the families we will meet. I envision clinic day full of parents desperately seeking help for their children from us who are complete strangers.
I know that although we will help many there will also be those that we have to turn away because of underlying health problems or other reasons. Because of this and other heartbreaking moments, I know I have to muster up much strength before the trip. But I also know that in just a few days I will see the warmth in the childrens' and parents' eyes as our team arrives to help change their lives. A simple smile is all that is needed to know we have made a difference, to know that the trip has been worthwhile. But I am also a true believer that with every trip the volunteers' lives are changed just as much as the patients.