Months or even years of anticipation lead up to the day for surgery. Some families have traveled up to eight hours by bus to reach the hospital. Once the surgeon, anesthesiologist and OR nurses have completed transforming lips and palates, the children are whisked into the PACU, post anesthetic care unit.

Sandra Chase and Emma Donagher quickly check the kids for oxygen levels; getting a probe on tiny toes or thumbs can sometimes be challenging. They also monitor respiration and temperature, check for bleeding and monitor pain. The goal is to get a family member in as quickly as possible. PACU assistant, Shirley Dean helps them get oriented.

Through the clearing fog of anesthesia, kids instinctively sense the familiar touch, feel and smell of mom, dad or grandma. If things get out of hand, a dash of morphine can help take the edge off. PACU is a time for moms to sit with children in their laps, swaddled in a gorgeous handmade quilt from donations by Rotary Clubs all across the U.S. and Canada. They quietly rock their children, admire new smiles, ponder enhanced possibilities and let the tears flow.