Final clinic and everyone is happy to see the children return with their parents for their final check up before the team leaves. There is mixed emotion in the team as we say our final farewells to the children and their parents after clinic. The parents are so appreciative and they cannot stop thanking us. This mission has been fulfilling beyond any words can describe.
We are looking forward to next time. Thank you for your help and support as we do this work changing lives around the world.
Everyone has been working long hard hours, the surgeons, the non-medical team, and the Cebu City Rotarians. I want to honor one group that usually arrives first and leaves last, as they have been working very hard to keep the mission running smoothly. They are the young volunteers that have been serving the team. They are the behind the scenes workers who are serving the team food and drinks, helping with the files, and helping transport the patients. They drive us around to pick up supplies as needed and drive the team back and forth to the hospital every morning and evening. They are dedicated young helpers washing the dishes and keeping everything clean.
They are the tiny gears that are not much noticed but they are the gears that are crucial in the clockwork to keep everything working smooth and on time. They are the ones helping to make us feel comfortable the best that they can. I just wanted to let them know they are most appreciated and we are thankful they are helping us to accomplish this mission. Well done!!!
We are finishing our last surgeries and I cannot believe the week is almost over. The sponsoring and local Rotarians are among the most exceptional people I have ever met. As a medical professional they were supportive in ways I would not have even thought of. All of the children receiving surgery have done well. The surgeons, colleague nurses and support staff have made this truly a life changing experience. I thank Rotaplast for providing me with this opportunity. I look forward to my next Rotaplast mission experience.
I have been a medical volunteer for Rotaplast since 2000. The missions I have been able to participate in around the world with others has given me the opportunity to “reset” what is important in my own life. On one mission, I quoted my favorite music group, The Dave Matthews Band. A very meaningful verse in a song is “if you give you begin to live”. For me, that sums up why I continue to work with this organization.
In addition, working with the children and their families each year reaffirms my love for the practice of medicine. In many instances we practice in an environment that tests our comfort zone, and each time we meet and exceed the challenge. One of my professors once told a group of physicians in training that “medicine is the most noble profession.” As I complete another Rotaplast mission, I can’t imagine not practicing medicine. When I’m working on these missions, it affords me the opportunity to practice medicine in the purest sense compared to the complexities of medicine in the United States.
Alan S Andacht, M.D. Anesthesiologist.
This makes it all worth it!!! Right letter is from the mother of twins, translated says: "Thank you and to all other volunteers who's names I did not get, for the help you have given my children. To the team Rotaplast. Thank you very much."
Well, Rotaplast International Medical Mission has always been a bringer of good news and miracles to many unfortunate Filipinos who are suffering from facial deformities. We, the local Rotarians always pray and hope that Rotaplast will come again year after year as we realized that there are more patients suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate.
We, the local Rotarians, are so thankful to our Rotaplast volunteers, medical and non-medical for their selfless services to our Filipino brothers and sisters who have benefited from the missions.
As the chairperson for this year’s Rotaplast, allow me on behalf of our club the Rotary club of Cebu Port Center and the people of Cebu to sincerely express our appreciation to Rotaplast International Medical Mission and its volunteers for the great and selfless service that they have extended to our people. Honestly there are not enough words to express our thanks and appreciation to our brothers and sisters of Rotaplast International Medical Mission.
Rotaplast indeed has brought so much hope to our people, especially those suffering from facial deformities to live their lives and continuing to dream. Now those who have benefited from Rotaplast have lived normal lives, contrary to their previous experiences. They had been treated like monsters, made fun of and used as an example by mothers to scare their misbehaving children. Today many if not most of those who underwent the surgery are back to school acquiring the important education that is necessary for them to resume dreaming of better lives.
Written by: Ricky Poca, Chairmen of the 2009 Rotaplast Mission for the Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center.
Michael was born with both bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. During the 2008 Cebu Mission his cleft lip was repaired. Today his cleft palate was repaired. Michael’s mother talked about how these restorative procedures have dramatically changed Michael’s outlook in life.
Michael has four older brothers. Two of his brothers are currently in college and two are in high school. Unlike his siblings, Michael never attended school because he was ashamed of his physical appearance. Prior to his cleft lip repair he even refused to look in the mirror. After his lip surgery had healed Michael loved to look at his new reflection in the mirror but still refused to go to school because of his cleft palate. Now that his cleft palate surgery is complete his mother says he is finally ready to start school.
Michael’s mother was so grateful to the Rotaplast surgeons that she asked for their email addresses so she could send a personal “thank you” to the people she credits with giving her son a new face and a new future.
Genna Badayos was born with a left cleft lip and palate. At two year’s of age, she is a dramatic illustration of how one hour and fifteen minutes of surgery can change a little girl’s life. Genna’s mother cradled her as she recovered from anaesthesia while Rotaplast team members and hospital staff alike stared in awe at this beautiful toddler.
Rotaplast surgeons and support staff worked tirelessly this day from 6 a.m. this morning until 10 p.m. this evening. The long day was a Rotaplast success; thirteen children were transformed.
Our day of rest! Many went to Church before we left on a city tour of Cebu, including the Magellan Cross historical site near the old port. Five years ago Sharron Newton, our current head nurse, and I were on the same tour during the 2004 Rotaplast mission and encountered a family using a child with a severe cleft lip for sympathy as they begged.
(Sharron and I with the child and her family in 2004)
After much persuasion we convinced her parents to bring her for surgery, and the surgery was a success! Now, five years later, Sharron and I wondered how the child was. She would be six years old. Could we locate her?
Today, with emotions running high for our entire group, we found her! We talked with her family and observed the beautiful six-year-old girl. She was active, proud, and showed no embarrassment as she played and frolicked with the other children. She looked like the normal child she was. For our team…PAYBACK!! This is why we all work on Rotaplast missions.
(Sharron and I with the child and her family in 2009)
Also today we encountered another cleft lip child as we walked a few blocks from the hotel. He or she appeared to be homeless and was found in a vacant parking lot in a rough area of Cebu. We were unsuccessful in communicating with the child or finding the family. We will go back tomorrow with one of our local Rotarian hosts, try to find the family, and hopefully convince them to bring the child in for evaluation and possible surgery.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Kien. The day of the clinic he came into the room so that I could take his picture for his file. He sat down in the chair and when I got the camera ready to take his picture he gave me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. He was so excited he could barely sit still for me.
I saw him down in the pre-op room coloring and waiting patiently for his turn. He was the last child scheduled for surgery today. The day dragged on for me, two and a half hours for each operation, and I could only imagine how long it must have felt for him.
We brought him and his mother upstairs. While waiting to go in for surgery we blew bubbles to help lighten the mood for the children and the parents. It’s such a joy to see the parents and the children laughing as the children chase after the bubbles trying to catch them. Kien was especially enthusiastic.
It was such a joy seeing Kien’s mother’s face when he came out of the operating room. She knows now his future is much brighter.
It is the morning of day three, our first day of surgeries. As a first time non-medical volunteer on the Cebu City Rotaplast mission I am alternately excited and terrified as I imagine possible events unfolding in the OR. Will I be competent and on task, a credit to the team, or will I crumble at the sight of blood?
For me, entering the OR is like crossing a border; everything is foreign and unknown but the energy is palpable. The Rotaplast medical team is in constant motion preparing the operating theatres and recovery room for the day’s scheduled surgeries. I am setting up the medical records station at the center of it all. In the lobby patient parents resign themselves to the long day’s wait.
Soon our little patients enter the OR, some quiet and wide-eyed, some crying, and all about to undergo a surgery that will forever change their lives.
“Did you hear the story about the little boy with the bilateral lip revision this morning?” asks Dr. Andacht, our chief anaesthesiologist. “It’s one of the most heart-breaking stories I have heard.”
Little Reymark, a shy boy with serious dark eyes, is seven years old. Born with a bilateral cleft lip, cleft on both sides, his mother and father, with little money, sought the services of a local doctor to fix the malformation. The ensuing surgery was not only unsuccessful, it left the boy further damaged. Unwilling to accept his son’s deformity, Reymark’s father left the family home. Soon after, his mother left too, leaving him in the permanent care of his grandmother.
Today Reymark is in the recovery room, nurses and grandma by his side. She is stroking his head. He is whimpering. His bilateral lip repair is complete and a new life waits for him.
I am honoured to be a part of this mission and in awe of the dedication of not only the Rotaplast medical staff but the local Rotarians whose tireless and selfless efforts have given Reymark, and hundreds like him, the gift of cleft palate repair.
The team met in San Francisco at the Philippines Airline check-in counter, Rotaplast already had the 38 boxes containing the medical supplies and equipment needed for the mission waiting to be checked in. We were not looking forward to the long journey but anticipating the arrival. We received a warm welcome and warm weather on arrival to Cebu City, Philippines.
The Cebu Rotary club has been working very hard preparing for us. They have spent many hours interviewing children that are in need of surgery and organizing with the hospital and the city.
The whole team is excited to finally be here after many hours of flights and layovers. We were tired from our long journey, but we were able to get set up and organized the equipment at the hospital that will be used for the operations that lie ahead in the next two weeks.
When we arrived at the Clinic, there were 116 children and their parents waiting for us. Some families had camped out over night to be first in line. It tugged at our heartstrings to see so many children in need of cleft palate surgery. As I started to take pictures for their medical files I found it hard to avoid staring at their deformed lips. I started to look into their eyes and then I saw their inner beauty and I just melted. These children are so precious and you can easily feel the love that their parents have for them.