Today we had our first day of surgeries. At breakfast you could sense the anticipation in the air. By 7 a.m. our Patient Ward Coordinator and Pediatrician were in the patient ward preparing the first three patients for surgery. Each patient was given clothes for surgery; the adults were given simple plain clothing but the children and babies, as a result of their size, were draped in gauze. Each patient needed to walk over 500 feet to the surgery ward. The two young patients clung to their mothers as a safe haven. Once in the surgery ward they waited for their number to be called.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the team members sitting in the waiting room with the patients. Our team did their best to try and calm the fears of both the patients and their families. Toys were handed out, games were played, and I was even able to break out my laptop and show a version of “Baby Einstein” in Hindi. Every patient was given a handmade quilt. It is amazing to watch as each of the doctors or nurses picked out the perfect quilt to give to their patient. Slowly the fear in the patient’s eyes would fade and eventually we were able to get them to smile and even laugh.
Among the first group of patients was a little eight-year old girl named Harshitha. Harshitha is here because her leg was badly burned. In the patient ward she immediately caught my attention. Her smile is contagious and melts your heart. I sat with her while she was waiting for surgery. We played games to pass the time.
I tapped on my chest and said “Jennifer” to let her know who I was. She followed my lead by doing the same thing and telling me her name. Then we would point to each other and repeat each other’s name. The doctors came out and as they carried her back to surgery she looked back at me and waved goodbye.
After her surgery Harshitha was very frightened and she was crying her little eyes out in the PACU (Patient After Care Unit). Her mother was able to go in and see her. About fifteen minutes later I just happened to walk by and catch her eye. Harshitha stopped crying. I walked over to say hi and she lifted her tiny little hand to her chest and said “Harshitha” and then pointed to me and said “Jennifer”. My heart melted and I had to fight back the tears.
That is a moment I will never forget. It’s moments like the one I had with Harshitha that makes you realize the importance of our Rotaplast mission and the work we are doing here in Nagamangala.