Quang Ngai, Vietnam-Nicole Friedland, Interplast Staff. Photo by John Urban
The first day of surgery is over after 12 long hours. The group has worked out many kinks and established a routine. After dinner, a small group returns for rounds at 9 p.m.
The recovery ward is one medium-sized bare room with wire-framed beds lined with flat wood planks. Our patients lie on the "beds" accompanied by a mother, father, an aunt or brother. Although it is hot, they are covered in blankets and each quietly waits for the doctors, whose language they don't speak. The nurse coordinator translates. Are they drinking water? Have they peed? Do they have pain? Do they have questions for the doctors? Most of them don't smile because they are tired, and many have their lips or palates stitched, but several reach out to hold our hands, and their eyes convey their gratitude.
It is a joy to watch the nurses with their charges. They are so caring and patient.