Quang Ngai, Vietnam – Nicole Friedland, Interplast Staff, photos by John Urban
When we returned from visiting with Lan, the OR and PACU were buzzing. The surgeons and nurses were excited to tell us that two new patients had arrived while we’d been gone. Two families had walked for two full days, coming down from the mountains to seek help for their babies with cleft lips. They were clearly extremely poor, their clothes dirty and torn and their teeth stained with betel. It was also clear to see their joy and love for their children. We visited with them and they laughed and smiled freely, knowing that their long journey would have a happy outcome. Both of their children were scheduled to receive surgery the next day.
The two kids came from neighboring villages, where their families live as farmers, growing rice, wheat and vegetables. The villages are home to 27 families and 128 people. The father told us “it was very, very harsh to make the journey but because of the kids we had to take the chance and come.”
We took Polaroid pictures for the charts and then gave them each a Polaroid photo of their family. As we walked back to the OR we heard joyous laughter ring down the hall.