Because of the long, circuitous distances some of these children and their parents have traveled to receive surgical treatment, many do not make it back for the Final Clinic day - hence some of these post-op photos were taken a day or two post surgery. Therefore, in these images many of the children's scars are still a little raw. However, within a few weeks they will have settled down and these lovely little kids will be enjoying happy post-Rotaplast intervention lives. We at Rotaplast wish them and their families every success.
You may remember we interviewed Eljane before her surgery. Above is the remarkable result four days after Dr. Janet Salomonsen performed a palate repair, a bilateral lip repair and nasal reconstruction. Good luck Eljane. You're a beautiful young lady in every way.
Below are some before and after images of our special patients who were operated on in Cebu last week. It's early days yet, but within a few short weeks their lips will be healed and they will be able to enjoy a healthier, happier future.
The Cebu Rotaplast Mission is over for yet another year. Above, the PACU team Sandy, Emma and Marnee celebrate its success with their special bracelet cheer. This was the eighth year a team has travelled to the City of Cebu. Again, the Cebu Port Center Rotarians hosted the team in true Filipino style – and more. Philippine Airlines honoured the team with a special queue when they were leaving Cebu tonight. Seen here standing below the sign are Mission Director Evelyn Abad and Medical Director, Dr. Angelo Capozzi.
Yesterday we were entertained and fed royally (once again!) by our Rotarian hosts at City Hall. The Mayor of Cebu City, Rotarian Mike Rama, spoke enthusiastically about the work Rotaplast does for the people of Cebu.
Remember Angie? She is the young girl who had a missing lower lip due to a condition called NOMA. She had been brought to the clinic by a good samaritan woman who had found her living on the street. Here's Angie above with Doctors Capozzi and Johnson having her final checkup with the Rotaplast Team. Angie was thrilled when Doctor Capozzi applied lip gloss to her "new" lower lip.
We’re coming to the end of the Cebu 2010 Rotaplast Mission. The Doctors, Dentists, and Nurses will see the patients at the post-surgery clinic at Vicente Sotto Medical Clinic in the morning. It is hoped that they will all return for their final check-up, but as many have to travel long distances, there will probably be a few no-shows. In seven operating days, forty-one cleft lips and thirty-two cleft palates were repaired,and as well twenty-six nose tips and thirteen lip repairs were revised, plus there were a variety of other procedures carried out. To summarize, 89 patients were screened, plus there were 6 walk-ins. Of these, 75 had surgery during which 122 procedures were done.
For this little girl above, life will be changed dramatically after her cleft lip repair seen below.
The afternoon was spent presenting certificates and gifts to the nurses and hospital staff and all the volunteers who helped make this repair and all the other procedures possible.
The face is a focus when it comes to physical attractiveness. This part of the body represents the person's identity and is the part most exposed to public view. Thus, whether a person is in general considered beautiful or not depends much on facial beauty. Children born with cleft lip and other kinds of facial disfigurement can experience far-reaching psychosocial problems. They may end up with very negative self perceptions and have difficulties in any kind of social interaction. At times they may be avoided or even rejected by the general public. Rotaplast gives these children a new “go” at life. For the parents, who have only known this one little face, there is often an adjustment in order to get used to the new "look" that the child that they love so much will have after surgery.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Nan Madden, (seen above) talks to the parents before the children and babies go into surgery. She explains that today is the last time they are going to see their little one with this look. Many times they become tearful and have to go through a little bit of a grieving process. She counsels them that they will soon find acceptance of their child’s beautiful new face. For many parents, their tears are tears of joy in anticipation for what they have been waiting for for so long.
Seven-year-old Michael has undergone four surgeries since 2007 - three of them with Rotaplast - involving a bilateral lip repair, a palate repair, and a nose and lip revision. His mother and father, above, holding Michael after his surgery, expressed utmost gratefulness to Rotaplast for what it has given Michael. Before, his mother offered, he would not look at himself in a mirror, but now it is his greatest joy to look at his face. In this picture he is a little out of it, but when he is fully awake he will be beaming.
Above: Head OR Nurse, Deborah Dean, chats with Michael and his Mom before surgery. And here's that wonderful smile:
When 5-year-old Kent was a baby, his parents separated. Kent and his older brother are being raised by their father as his mother had lost interest in this dear little boy with a cleft lip/cleft palate problem. Through Rotaract interpreter, Yeng, Kent’s father told me that not only does she not know that Kent is being operated on today, she does not care. He has tried three times to have Kent operated on. The first time, the organization that was in Cebu could only take 100 patients and he missed out; the second time there was some problem with scheduling, so today he is very happy that even though Kent has been NPO since 8PM last night and is incredibly hungry, this has turned out to be third time lucky!
Below: Sleep, however, helps with the hunger problem temporarily. Kent is scheduled to have a bilateral lip and palate repair today. He has some difficulty being understood, but if they need to know what Kent is saying, his older brother seems to always know what he wants. I asked his dad if he knew what Kent wanted to be when he grew up. He laughed and said: I haven’t had a chance to discuss that with him yet! Kent's father only gets occasional work in construction, but his older brother is able to provide enough for food for the family; they all live in the original family home with Kent’s grandfather.
I spoke to Cebu Port City Rotarian, Ricky Poca, who teaches Political Science at the University of San Carlos Talamban, in Cebu, about single parent families in the Philippines. He explained that since the advent of the OSW (Overseas Workers) and a trend towards western culture, there has been an increase in the number of 'dysfunctional families' in the Philippines. The parent who is left at home will sometimes find a boyfriend or girlfriend, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Ricky has special insight into changes in family life as his wife works next door at the Women and Children’s Center with children who have been abused.
After Plastic Surgeon Dr. Janet Salomonson (of Santa Monica California) had transformed Kent's face and palate with magical precision, I visited him in the Recovery Room, where my Rotarian friend and former Rotaplast team member (Cebu 2008) from Comox BC, Bent Harder, presented him with a T-shirt he had brought from Canada. Bent has worked tirelessly on eight missions and has been an energetic fundraiser for Rotaplast for many years. It was one of his presentations to the Rotary Club of Oak Bay (Victoria) that convinced me that this was a project that was so worthwhile that I wanted to become involved. Kent's dad was so happy when he saw his visually transformed little boy, it brought out some very strong emotions in the Recovery Room! And that's what Rotaplast is all about.
Rotaplast affects different people in different ways. For some, it is the personal miracle of a repaired lip and palate, for others it’s the joy of helping to effect these repairs, but for one energetic District 5020 Rotarian from the South Puget Sound club, a very special magnet drew her back to Cebu to take part in a second Rotaplast Mission.
In 2008, a little fellow named Nelson won the heart of Marnee Obendorf. His huge smile and open arms drew Marnee in immediately when she saw him with his Mom in the admitting area of the Vicente Sotto Medical Center. Marnee was working in the pre-op / post-op ward when Nelson came in with a bilateral cleft lip and a cleft palate.
His lip was repaired by Dr. Bill McClure, September two years ago. Marnee has stayed in touch with Nelson through a neighbour who has a phone, and via emails. She had a day off from the Recovery Room on Sunday where she is working as the PACU assistant, so she arranged for the two of us to meet Nelson at the SM Mall in Cebu. With his mother, little sister and a cousin, we played on the roving train and had lunch at Jollibee’s, a fast food chain. Yesterday, Nelson was back at the hospital for reassessment for his palate repair. There is some hesitancy on the part of his mother, who appears scared about the procedure that he will go through. He needs a palate repair and a revision of his lip and nose. She will be phoning today with her decision about undergoing surgery this week. Hopefully, he’ll soon be speaking clearly and will grow up a healthy boy. As we saw on the kiddy train at the SM Mall, he is already a happy one. Here he is with his three-year-old sister, Gisenelle, and Marnee. UPDATE ON NELSON: After several trips to and from the hospital for blood work, etc., Nelson was set to be operated on yesterday. However he had developed a temperature which meant he could not undergo the procedure. Hopefully next year he will be well enough. We're keeping our fingers crosssed for you Nelson.
After surgery yesterday, Eljane is feeling a little sore and her ready smile is not quite what it was when I first met her. That will change pretty soon. She was happy to have the company of Patient Ward Coordinator, Karen Johnson of Olympia, WA. Note the beautiful note she wrote to the Rotaplast Team.
Karen and Recreation Co-ordinator, Brigitte Pahwa, of Austin Texas (above) treated the children to the Jungle Book movie to fill in the long hours of waiting.
The wards were busy with post-op children and teens, and those awaiting their surgeries today, which is operating day #2. One of the Rotaract volunteers and President of the club, Ariel (Yeng) Alvarez offered to help with translation, as I had wanted to speak with a young 14-year-old girl, Eljane Illut, who was awaiting surgery. Through Yeng, I learned that Eljane felt quite comfortable with the interview. She and her mother, Alma, and aunt Bien Venida had travelled from Bantayan Island which is about five hours away from Cebu by boat and road. Eljane is in second year in high school. She has a complicated cleft which is quite disfiguring and affects her speech. She told me she is always treated with respect by her friends and by the other students. Her teachers have instructed the kids that they must never discriminate against children who are different in any way. She does well in school, having no problem with her studies and exams. She likes to study, and she also likes to play badminton and to draw and color. In order to be fully understood, she “does actions” or signs while she speaks – she told me she likes talking a lot! When she finishes school she would like to be a nurse, because she wants to help her family. I spoke with her mother who had only just now found out about Eljane’s wish to be a nurse. She was quite emotional about this fact, as she can see ambition in her daughter, some of which has occurred since interacting with the doctors and nurses working with Rotaplast. I wondered why she had not been treated as a young child. Her mother explained that the doctor who originally saw her was hesitant to do anything, as there were no facilities or the equipment necessary for follow-up treatment. Eljane’s cousin also had a cleft lip and palate, and had been operated on by a previous Rotaplast team; now she has “a successful marriage with two kids.” Eljane’s father is a fisherman, but doesn’t have much work, so the family is very poor. She was encouraged to come to Cebu to have the operation by her pastor. Eljane says that her biggest wish is “to have good features.”