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We Are All the Same People Inside

  Chongqing Beauty 
  Originally uploaded by interplast

Chongqing, China--Emily Ulm, RN:  I am back from Chongqing, China and am sitting here in the wee hours of the morning trying to feel sleepy enough to go back to bed. Jet lag is not a pretty thing.

My first Interplast trip was absolutely unbelievable and indescribable.  The countryside in China is lush and green from all the rain, with beautiful rolling hills.  I was told by one of our host members that we brought the sunshine; that normally it would be raining a lot more at this time of year.  The cities were clean and very aesthetically pleasing.  I especially liked the farms in Chongqing that were built on the slope of a hill--tiers of land that resembled a staircase from the distance.

I fell in love with the children from the moment I saw them.  We were able to operate on about 54 by the end of the trip.  After our chief surgeon had to return home after being injured, our surgical fellow, Dr. Ian Wilson, took up the slack for a couple of days by operating in two rooms.  When one case was done, we were ready for him with the next one to begin right away.  Kudos to Dr. Wilson for helping to get these kids' surgeries done.  Also, a huge thank you to Dr. Shankar Rai, who joined us in the second week from Nepal to help Ian operate on the children.

Once the cultural barriers were down, we were able to make many close friendships with the people of China.  The PACU nurses worked closely with some volunteer university students from China who were indispensable.  They all became quite close.  The OR nurses befriended the local Chinese OR nurses and again formed some great friendships.

While visiting the Buddhist temple, I was met by an elderly man who said something to me in Chinese.  I asked one of our volunteer students to interpret and she said that he said, "Even though we do not speak the same language, we are still the same people inside." It brought tears to my eyes.

I fell in love with China and the people and was thrilled to be a part of something so big and helpful for the children.

It Was a Good Day

  Bob Zollars with his new car
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Robert Zollars thought he'd play a little golf at the Interplast Golf-a-Thon and support a charity he believes in.  Little did he know it would be his lucky day.  He won not one, but two of the tournament's contests:  the putting contest and the hole-in-one contest.  His prize for the hole-in-one? A brand new Mercedes Benz.  "I couldn't believe it!" Bob said. "I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would get a hole-in-one and win a car.  Just before, I won the putting contest and I donated those winnings back to Interplast.   It's such a great organization: They are really helping so many children have better lives."

From Chongqing: Thanks to Catholic Healthcare West

  Patient's Pre-op Exam 
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Chongqing, China -- Dr. Joe Silsby is seen here completing a pre-surgical evaluation of a young child in Chongqing, China.  We at Interplast would like to extend our thanks to Catholic Healthcare West for its generous contribution, which helped make the trip possible.  All the children in Chongqing whose lives were forever changed also send along their heartfelt thanks.

Smiling in Chongqing

  A Happy Mother 
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Chongqing, China - Rowan Hardy, anesthesiologist:  We arrived from far and wide: right across the States, Canada, the UK and Nepal.  A truly international group who have somehow gelled together into an efficient, professional and compassionate team. 

Our Chinese hosts have been incredibly helpful and kind to us as has the group of excellent student interpreters, guides (and friends).  When our surgeon Ben Rodriguez was hurt in an accident early in the trip he (and all of us) were touched by their kindness even more.

Things are running efficiently and effectively now and many children have already received their surgery.  It is always a moving and happy sight to watch these children reunited with their parents in the recovery room and I'm honored to be a part of this.

All my best wishes to you, Ben, if you get to read this.  It was a real pleasure working with you and I hope you are recovering fast.

Interplast Celebrates Bike To Work Day!

  Interplast's Intrepid Bikers Seth and Dora 
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Interplast staff members Dora Rusin-Gomez and Seth Mazow celebrated Bike To Work Day by, well, biking to work! Look how happy, healthy and proud they look.

In Memoriam--Susan Sandoval

Susan_sandoval_pic We are saddened by the news we just received that one of our trip volunteers, Susan Sandoval, passed away last week from ovarian cancer.  She was 53.  Susan and her volunteer experience were immortalized in Interplast’s Academy Award®-winning documentary, "A Story of Healing."

The documentary was filmed on a 1997 team trip to the town of Long Xuyen in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. At that time, Susan was a recovery room nurse at Salt Lake City’s LDS Hospital.  More recently, she worked at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.  Susan’s sunny disposition and warm heart will be missed by all who worked with her over the years.

Charming, Industrious and Extremely Intelligent

Chongqing, China - Mary Beth Yosses, PACU nurse:  33 hours after leaving my house on 5/11, we arrived at the hotel in BeiBei, a small university town just outside of Chongqing, China. Whew!  It was quite a journey: we had a 7 hour lay over in Hong Kong, a city I find to be more overwhelming than New York!  Today we screened 109 patients during clinic day. We'll do eight cleft lips and palates patients tomorrow, mostly 1- 5 years old but one patient who is 16. 

The people are charming, industrious and extremely intelligent. Luckily we have lots of help with the language from local students who speak better English than me...err...I mean than I. : )

Our team is so terrific. Everybody is cooperative, hardworking, good natured.  The food is outrageously delicious and just as outrageously spicy (and it's been toned WAY down for us).  Stay tuned for more posts from more Interplast volunteers here in Chongqing over the next two weeks.

Hand Therapy in Bolivia

  Pam Changing Jorge's Dressing 
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

La Paz, Bolivia - Mary Whitehead, coordinator / translator: Jorge injured his hand two years ago while fixing the tiles on his roof. His ladder broke and he tried to stop himself from falling by grabbing the end of the roof. He ended up cutting his hand across the palm, severing tendons and nerves. He's so happy that we've come to help him recover the use of his hand. Pam Silverman, our hand therapist is shown here changing his dressing and teaching him exercises to improve his mobility once his hand heals.

Burn Victim Kweku is a Survivor

  Dr. Paintsil and Burn Victim Kweku 
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Accra, Ghana - Devon Watts, Interplast staff:  Dr. Albert Paintsil, Interplast's surgical outreach director in Accra, Ghana is busy repairing burn contractures for some of Ghana's poorest patients.

This 6-month old boy, Kweku, was burned badly on his face, torso and arm when he was just 2 weeks old. The mother says she doesn't know how it happened, she just found the baby's bed on fire when she returned from another room. Dr. Paintsil has already done a number of skin grafts on Kweku's face to restore function to the eyelids (making it possible for him to close his eyes again) and give him new skin around his eyes. The different pigmentation of the skin is due to the fact that the graft was taken from the baby's thigh, where his skin is darker. Kweku has also undergone a contracture release on his arm, also performed by Dr. Paintsil through Interplast's burn outreach program.... and the poor little guy still needs more surgery!

Dr. Paintsil plans to release a contracture to fix Kweku's lip, and will have to conduct several more surgeries as the baby grows. Dr. Paintsil is devoted to caring for Kweku as long as necessary in order to ensure that he grown up to be a healthy boy who can function in society. When talking about Kweku today, Dr. Paintsil said, "The conclusion I have come to with this patient is that he is a survivor. He is a very strong boy" I can't see how anyone could disagree with that, given what Kweku has already been through in his short life.

Forever Young Foundation and Interplast in Ghana

  Forever Young Foundation at Korle-Bu 
  Originally uploaded by interplast.

Accra, Ghana - Devon Watts, Interplast staff:  Today was a very special day at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.  Representatives from the Forever Young Foundation visited the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burn Unit to see what Interplast's visiting educators and surgical outreach directors are accomplishing here in Accra. We were delighted to host, among others, Steve Young - former star quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Junior Bryant - also a former 49er, defensive tackle, and teammate of Steve Young's when the 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1995, and Sterling Tanner - Executive Director of the Forever Young Foundation. Mr. Young is the co-founder of the Forever Young Foundation with his wife Barb, and Mr. Bryant is a member of the organization's Board of Directors. All are pictured here with Dr. Tom Moore, plastic surgeon and Interplast volunteer educator, and several of the local plastic surgeons. The Forever Young Foundation has provided a two-year grant to fund a large part of the visiting educator and burn outreach programs in Ghana. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to them, both for their generous support and for taking the time to come and see the work that Interplast is doing here.

Global Health