It is the morning of  day three, our first day of  surgeries.  As a first time non-medical volunteer on the Cebu City Rotaplast mission I am alternately excited and terrified as I imagine possible events unfolding in the OR.  Will I be competent and on task, a credit to the team, or will I crumble at the sight of blood? 

For me, entering the OR is like crossing a border; everything is foreign and unknown but the energy is palpable.  The Rotaplast medical team is in constant motion preparing the operating theatres and recovery room for the day’s scheduled surgeries.  I am setting up the medical records station at the center of it all.  In the lobby  patient parents resign themselves to the long day’s wait.

Soon our little patients enter the OR, some quiet and wide-eyed, some crying, and all about to undergo a surgery that will forever change their lives.

“Did you hear the story about the little boy with the bilateral lip revision this morning?” asks Dr. Andacht, our chief anaesthesiologist.  “It’s one of the most heart-breaking  stories I have heard.”

Little Reymark, a shy boy with serious dark eyes, is seven years old.  Born with a bilateral cleft lip, cleft on both sides, his mother and father, with little money,  sought the services of  a local doctor to fix the malformation.  The ensuing surgery was not only unsuccessful, it left the boy further damaged.  Unwilling to accept his son’s deformity, Reymark’s father left the family home.  Soon after, his mother left too, leaving him in the permanent care of his grandmother.

Today Reymark is in the recovery room, nurses and grandma by his side.  She is stroking his head.  He is whimpering.  His bilateral lip repair is complete and a new life waits for him.


I am honoured to be a part of this mission and in awe of the dedication of not only the Rotaplast medical staff  but the local Rotarians whose tireless and selfless efforts have given Reymark, and hundreds like him, the gift of cleft palate repair.  

Written by Kathleen; Medical Records Keeping.