A medical mission in any country requires adaptability by all involved. Today was a perfect illustration of that fact. Our team and the patients rose to the challenge. A sampling: All of our medical supplies reached us today, except the box of medications. (The rumor as of this late posting is that Paola Ferraté, one of our translators, is on her way to the airport to recover our medicines after paying an additional “tax.”) Dr. Ken Bloome, one of our pediatricians, was resourceful and ordered from the pharmacy for today’s procedures.
Cindy George, our recreational therapist, was drafted to construct “no-no’s” out of cardboard, chucks and tape. These are improvised splints are placed on the arms of infants immediately after surgery, so that the infant does not scratch the surgical site.

Amazingly enough, the hospital ran out of diapers today. Those are a necessity given our young patients. A local Rotarian saved the day with a quick trip to the store.
Our biggest challenge is always the surgical schedule, and on this trip it was complicated further by concern over Swine Flu. One child was scheduled for surgery, but our staff then learned that the papers filled out by the parents were not completely accurate. The family had come from Mexico within two days, and had not been in Guatemala for the required quarantine period of five to seven days. The hospital mandated the child be quarantined this morning. However 14 unexpected potential patients arrived and were evaluated today. Nine of them will likely be added to the mission’s surgery schedule.
Of course the most adaptive persons were the families of our patients as exemplified by one mother’s story:

Today we were all impressed with the strength of Katerina, who is only 19 years old. Katerina is the mother of a darling daughter, Dahyrin, who is five months old and weighs just 13 pounds. Despite her cleft lip, Dahyrin is a happy and thriving baby. Dahyrin’s father paints cars for a living in Guatemala City and was not able to accompany her to the hospital. Katerina took a two hour bus ride to the hospital with Dahyrin. After Dahyrin was accepted for surgery, Katerina spent the night sleeping in a plastic lawn chair in the pediatrics ward next to her daughter.

Katerina heard about Rotaplast from a television ad. She wanted the surgery for her baby, but expressed concern that Dahyrin would be left with a scar. During clinic, Katerina was reassured by the medical team that the scar would be minimal, so Katerina decided to proceed with surgery for Dahyrin. Our medical director, Dr. Debra Johnson took Dahyrin into surgery, assisted by anesthesiologists Dr. Helen Vajk and Dr. Mojca Konia, and operating nurse Lois Borie. The surgery was preformed by Dr. Milton Solis. Cyndee George tended to Dahyrin in the recovery room. Five minutes after surgery it was evident that the lip repair surgery was a success. This young mother had not anticipated the beautiful result, she just kept saying, “Garcias, gracias." In a few years Dahyrin will need to have her palate repaired. Tonight Katerina will sleep in a plastic chair by her daughter’s crib.

We left the hospital after 15 procedures completed under ever-changing circumstances. We also left with the gratitude of many families and satisfied by the beauty of our little patients.
Please visit www.guatemala2009.com to see more photographs learn more about the team.