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Evaluating Sites: A Definite Need for Interplast in Mali

Mother and Child With Cleft
Originally uploaded by interplast.
I went to visit an orphanage/shelter run by Maly, my Bamako contact. While I was there she showed me a woman with a baby who has a cleft. The mother had no means to get it fixed, and was also staying at the shelter because she has no resources.

If our team can come to Bamako next year like I am hoping, we will be able to fix the child's cleft for free. I actually saw two others in a similar situation and I am sure there are many more, so it seems like there is a definite need for Interplast here in Mali.

To read more about Dr. Bill Schneider and his site evaluation trip to Africa, please visit the Developing World Site Evaluation blog.

Evaluating Sites in Mali

Evaluating Sites in Mali
Originally uploaded by interplast.
I am Dr. Bill Schneider, Interplast’s chief medical officer. Part of my job is to evaluate sites for future Interplast surgical team trips, visiting educator trip and surgical outreach center directors. I am currently in Bamako, Mali, the first stop of a three week fact-finding trip to Africa that will also include Ghana and Ethiopia. Currently Interplast has a surgical outreach center in Lusaka, Zambia, and I am excited about the prospect of expanding our development work elsewhere in Africa.

Today was spent visiting several hospitals here in Bamako, Mali to determine if this would be a good place to bring an Interplast surgical volunteer team. There are no plastic surgeons in Mali, a country of over 12 million people. It appears that there are only two surgeons who do cleft lip repairs, and no one who does palate repairs. The Gibreal Toure Hospital has the largest pediatric department in Mali and is the primary pediatric referral center. They are interested in lectures and teaching in all of our specialties.

To read more about Dr. Bill Schneider and his site evaluation trip to Africa, please visit the Developing World Site Evaluation blog.

Loja, Ecuador: A Dream That All Goes Well With The Operation

Mary and Maria
Originally uploaded by interplast.
Tuesday was the first day of surgery, and like other trips I’ve been on, we had to work out the kinks. As sometimes happens, we had a problem with the autoclave and had to rely on the hospital to sterilize our instruments. The result caused delays and we got behind schedule. To add to the situation, a one-year old patient was not recovering well (bleeding) and had to return to the operating room. This necessitated canceling the last patient - a sweet 15-year old girl named Maria. She was scheduled to have an abbey flap to create more of an upper lip which was malformed due to a previous cleft lip. She was so gracious despite having waited all day without food or water. She understood, saying the little ones were more important. We rescheduled her for the next day (Wednesday).

Wednesday turned out to be very busy and she waited the whole day again, but this time we were able to do her surgery. Like many patients, she’s very afraid of needles, so when Melissa (the anesthesiologist) came to pre-medicate her and put in her IV, I distracted her. Melissa has such a gentle touch that apart from the little sting from the numbing medication, Maria never felt the IV go in.

Going in to the operating room I told her to pick a sweet dream to think about while we put her under - she said she would dream that all goes well with her operation. She let me take her picture just before she went to sleep. What a wonderful spirit this young lady has! She’s so grateful for our help and said she’ll stay in Loja so she can say hello to the Interplast team next year.

Note: This text previously (and erroneously) went with this photo of Andrea. We have fixed it so this post is the correct story and picture of Maria, and the other post is the correct story and picture of Andrea. Sorry for the confusion. --Interplast

Dhaka, Bangladesh: Burn Victim Sufia

  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Sufia, age 17, lives in the burn unit of the Dhaka Medical College. It has been her home for the last eight months and before that she lived in the district hospital of Narail, about 150 miles north of Dhaka, for five months. She has not known any other home since she was burned.

Here is the story of how she suffered her disabling burns. The rice harvest was done. The men bundled the paddy and threw it in a high heap in the middle of the courtyard. It is the women’s job to process the plants into edible grain – get the grains off the stems, dry it, husk it in the foot pedal and store it. In addition, all the routine cooking and housework of course had to be done. Sufia was at wits end about how to cope with her two sons – the 4-year old did not need much, but the two-month-old son wanted to be breastfed every two hours.

She had a heated quarrel with her 55-year-old husband and went to bed after dinner. As it was Ramadan, she’d have to get up at 3 AM to cook the meal that they would eat before sunrise; nothing to eat is allowed, not even water, during the day.

In the middle of the night, she woke up with a start to find someone sitting on her chest holding her mouth shut. It was her husband – his brother tied her both hands over her head, another brother tied her both feet together. They dragged her off the bed to the corner of the room, poured a cold fluid that smelled like kerosene that was used to fuel the lamps, set her on fire and fled...

To read more about Sufia and the rest of the patients and volunteers in Dhaka, Bangaldesh, please visit the Dhaka, Bangladesh surgical volunteer team blog.

Global Health