Early morning rounds in the ward saw all of Monday’s patients discharged except three who will stay another day. The ward was immensely busy, with parents and children eating, being treated, being discharged; but there was a general feeling of warmth, smiles, and happiness that their lives would be taking a new direction – there would be hope for a normal childhood for these incredible children and their families. The surgeons, Jed, Bill, Jitka and Sib, and pediatrician Colin, visited each of their patients, removed gauze and stitches where appropriate, and worked quickly between the cots before heading off to start the day’s cases. Normally, 12 to 15 cases are done per day in three operating rooms. We have four surgeons and four anesthesiologists on the team, which allows for a float surgeon/ anesthesiologist.

A San Francisco woman who was on the same plane as the team, and who had heard about what we were doing, dropped into the hospital to see how she could support the mission. She had a nephew who had a cleft lip and she remembered how difficult it was. Ken, Don, and Rosaline explained how Rotaplast is associated with Rotary, how Rotarians fundraise to provide money to send a Mission Team, and how the local club here supports us. This particular club, the 32-member Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center, in District 3860, pre-screen the cleft lip and cleft palate patients, and give them vitamins. They make all the arrangements necessary to get the children ready to come into the hospital. They arrange food for us; they liaise with the hospital to set up the schedule for the team here; and … they treat us royally while we are here. I have yet to experience such hospitality by a Rotary club.

Some of the pre-screened children make the list; others are put on standby in case there are cancellations because of illness. This year, of 140 pre-screened children, 110 made the list, with 30 put on standby. One such patient arrived at the hospital this morning. Nine-month-old Christel Joyce is a very pretty little baby with a unilateral cleft lip. Home is about an hour away by jeepney – the colourful open buses that fill Cebu’s streets. Dr. Colin and Dr. Bill both examined the child. Christel’s parents were asked to come back on Thursday when maybe there will be an opening. Rotaplast tries to accommodate all patients, so hopefully she will receive an operation very soon – if not on this mission, she will be placed at the front of the list for the next mission. By the end of the day, two more standbys and one walk-in (i.e. not seen before) had been processed and scheduled for surgery, one for late today and the others for later in the week.