This is our last day with the post clinic and packing up to go back to Rotaplast in San Francisco.
Again, alot of people were already waiting at 9:00 a.m.. Nice to see the kids back. Even after a week we could see how nicely our patients were healing. It was very emotional with the people constantly telling us how happy and grateful they were for the operations.
We have been able to operate on 84 children. A fantastic result. The team must take leave now and each one will return back to his/her own environment and will try again to pick up the normal rhythm of every day life, yet keep within his or her mind the beautiful and impressive experiences, the friendship among each other and the team spirit during this mission.
Today we performed 12 operations on babies and small children. This was the first operation for most if not all of these children. It was a difficult time for many of these mothers to hand over their children to strangers for the operation, so much reassurance was given to these parents. The parents were assured that their children were in good hands with many experienced people here to help them. Most operations were between 1 and 1 ½ hours and were told by the mothers that these were the longest hours of their lives.
It is amazing to see how the lives of these patients can be changed with just a one hour operation. The patient will have less problems with eating, have a better chance at normal speech, and their self esteem improves with looking more like their peers. Today we operated on identical twins that both had slightly different cleft lip problems. The surgery on both twins was done by the same surgeon so the outcomes on the children would be similar.
We are almost to our final day of operating, everything is on schedule and things are running smoothly. We start our day preparing the operating rooms for the first surgeries and locate the children that are scheduled for surgery including a final check by the pediatricians. We then make sure they have a bed prepared for the patients on the ward to return to after surgery.
The children older than 13 are staying in one big ward near the operating rooms, and the small children are staying in the pediatric ward in another area of the hospital.
The goal for this mission was 40 operations because maxillofacial surgeries take a significant amount of time, yet we have already completed 58 operations.
Most of the patients are only in the hospital overnight. The 13 operations that took place today included 9 children above the age of 10, with the eldest being age 39. There were many operations repairing fistulas and palates.
Today was another intensive surgical schedule for both patients and team.
Outside the patient waiting area we came in contact with a local Peruvian angel. This lady was the mother of a young teenage patient that had already been operated on, and she is also the grandmother of twins that will be operated on later this week. This lady takes care of alot of patients and their families and makes certain that they have a healthy lunch (which is the most important meal of the day for the local people). Although this lady lives in a small house she has opened her home to those in need that have no family here and are traveling from far away. This woman wanted her daughter to be able to speak well, so she has educated herself on speech therapy. Now she advises other people on rehabilitation and specific exercises for speech and she will help them for free. When she came to the pre-clinic with the twins she started to help with our mission with many practical things and has become our “Peruvian Angel”.
We succeeded to complete the surgery schedule very late in the evening and a few members of the team finally arrived back at the hotel after 10 p.m..
Today was another busy, hectic day with two long and extensive procedures and 10 others.
All team members received a heart charm from the grandmother of a patient as a thank you gift.
Many families came from a distance, some 30 hours by bus. Rotary Club of Lima el Rimac provides a place to stay for those that travelled from a long distance.
Some people have to wait for several days for a surgery slot. While waiting patients socialize with each other sharing toys and food throughout the day. New children arrive throughout the day. Today a grandmother arrived with her grandchild who had been abandoned by the mother and is now being cared for by the grandmother.
In the middle of all the work we found time to have a birthday cake for one of our surgeons. We sang in Dutch and Spanish and English and shared the cake with all the staff.
Finally, we are ready to begin operating. The age of the children varies from 3 months to 18 years and the procedures also vary from simple to complex.
It is astonishing how quickly we all came together to work so well as a team. Sometimes we needed a lot of creativity and improvisation. For instance, cupboards were made out of empty packing boxes.
Catering for the team was well done by the local Rotarians, who provided us with excellent food including Peruvian chicken and rice, nice fruits, some of which were new to many of us, heaps of sweets and endless coffee.
At 8:00 p.m. the team returned to the hotel and after a snack everyone got to his or her bed, because the alarm clock will be ringing at 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
This morning we left at exactly 6:30 a.m. for the hospital.
It will be a hectic pre-clinic day. At 8:00 a.m. there were already many people waiting in line patiently, with hope and expectations for their children. The patients are all assigned numbers because we want to see the small babies first.
There are groups with the older children and adults waiting in another area. Nancy and Carmen from the Rotary Club Lima el Rimac were a great help in completing the many files. All the children were photographed, had an assessment, including vital signs and were seen by the surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians and the dentists. At 3:00 p.m. just when we thought the queue would slow down, another large group of families seemed to appear out of nowhere.
By the end of the day we had seen 135 children and screened them all. In the final hours of the evening the difficult decision of who would have surgery was made and the surgical schedule was posted on the wall outside the clinic.
Orientation day in Lima, Peru with the entire team.
It is two o’clock in the morning and the whole team has arrived. The team is comprised of medical and non-medical volunteers from the Netherlands and the United States.
Later this same morning the team went to the Hospital Nacional Arzobispo Loayasa for a warm and friendly welcome reception and orientation by the director of the hospital and the president of the Rotary Club of Lima el Rimac. The bus trip took 1 ½ hours in busy morning traffic.
We had a group photo and a tour of the facility. The first patients had already arrived and were waiting patiently to be seen in the clinic the following day. One mother shared that she thought her child had a cleft lip because she(the mother) had eaten a mango.