The Rotaplast Team of Kanyakumari left India on Sunday with fond memories and the knowledge that we provided an opportunity for the children and families of Nagercoil to receive life changing surgeries.
We repaired the lips of babies, closed the hard and soft palates of young children, and helped burn victims regain movement in their wrists, arms, and neck. We gave a child back the use of her thumb after she suffered a burn to her hand. We helped another child increase the movement of her eyelids so that she may, after 12 years, close her eyes completely.
The faces of India, those we helped and those that helped us will always be a part of our lives; and we, Rotaplast will always be remembered in the heart of theirs.
The last day of surgery marked a successful mission to Kanyankumari, India. A total of 68 patients received life changing procedures. Children had their lips fixed, others had their palates corrected. Many teens and young adults had the burn scars repaired.
Today, Closing Clinic flowed seamlessly as grateful patients entered the examination room. Families dressed in their finest, most colorful clothing were delighted to have their picture taken.
Byer of California donated over 30 dresses for the children. Some of the girls wore their new dresses to clinic day. Thank you to Joe, our sterilizer for bringing the dresses all the way to the children!
Our team has been treated very well by our host Rotarians. Each evening an event is planned in our honor. Often we are dinner guests at a Rotarian’s home. Last evening we were graciously treated to a wonderful meal at the home of Mythili Sundaram.
Mythili is the president of Inner Wheel, a women’s Rotary Club. She, her husband, and the Inner Wheel Secretary Aruna Suresh welcomed us to a cool, comfortable roof top party complete with Indian cuisine and music.
Other evenings, our team have been the welcomed guests at a number of Rotary Clubs. Here, Mission Director Brian addresses the Rotary Club of Nagercoil, the local sponsor of the mission.
As of our 6th day of surgery, the team has evaluated more than 130 patients and today, more stream in, hoping they are a candidate and that there is a slot on the schedule for tomorrow; our last surgical day.
Today we saw a little boy with a rare cleft to his nostril. In hopeful anticipation, his mother bought him to us fasting. For anesthesia to be safe, the patient must not have had food or water for a number of hours before surgery. This little guy was placed on the surgical schedule today.
Disfiguring burns are a regular aliment we are seeing in patients on this mission. A common cause seems to be people caught in the explosion of kerosene stoves.
Dishon is 29 years old. Four years ago, a kerosene kettle stove blew up in front of him and he was caught in the flames. Since then, he’s had 3 surgeries. Rotaplast performed his forth surgery to release his right elbow and thumb so that he may regain the use of both.
Here Dr. Ana and Irene change Dishon’s dressing before discharge from the hospital
At 16, Abirami set herself on fire. Today, she is a young woman of 19 with scars over her entire body. She is unable to open her mouth wide enough to function. Rotaplast performed a z plasty to the sides of her mouth to help her mouth function better.
The team has witnessed a strong bond between the father and his child in many of the families. When the child is distressed, many times it is the father that the child reaches for; it is the father that has the influence to gently calm the child.
There are two local languages spoken by the people of this region; Tamil and Malayalam. While a high percentage of people in India speak and understand English, many do not. The majority of people who are seeking help have come from either the state of Tamal Nadu or Kerela and speak the local languages.
The importance of having translators is critical. Our translators have been the nurses, dental assistants, and one dentist, Sudesh, who has been magnificent. Sudesh, Subha, and Sunitha have been at the hospital on the overnight as well as the day.
The patients arrive the evening before surgery, are assigned a bed and wait. For some, the wait is long because their surgery may be scheduled in the late afternoon. Rotaplast team members brought toys, coloring, and games to entertain the children.
Most of the patients have come with whole families and extended families. Today, the 3rd day of surgery, we continue to examine and assess walk-ins. To date, we’ve examined 99 people.
In addition to helping children with cleft lip and palate, we’ve also seen many people seeking help for burns. Vijayan is 26. In 2004 she was living on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal when the Tsunami hit southern Asia. She was caught in a house fire and severely burned. Rotaplast will help release contracture of her neck.
Dr. Sunil Richardson and Dr. Shweta Richards, owners of Richardsons Hospital, have gone out of their way to provide everything our team has needed, from additional medications to basic necessities like food and water.
Today, our first day of surgery, Afia arrived to repair her cleft lip with five members of her extended family. She was our first patient on the first day.
After surgery, Afia sleeps peacefully in her mother's arms with recovery nurse Tracy.