Up again at 5 AM although we were all in bed by 9:30 last night due to exhaustion. New breakfast location, but the same food.
Bus arrive at 6. Made it to the hospital by 6:30. First patients operations stated at 7.
We repaired a babies cleft lip but he will need to get cleft palate fixed in the future, hopefully at a future Rotaplast mission. The family is Mayan and only speaks Quiche(one of 20 languages spoken in Guatemala) and no spanish. His mother brought a friend who can translate from Quiche to Spanish and Bella is translating from Spanish to English. Like a lot of the people who have come here, they have traveled over 12 hours, mostly by bus, but also walked several miles to get to this hospital.
A boy's mother said "My son will now be able to grow up go to school without being teased and considered not normal".
This is a three year old boy named Hansel. He has two sisters that stayed home with the grandparents. Hansel had a cleft palate, which means there is basically no palate. Hansel's sisters are OK, no problem. The doctors repaired the palate which will allow the boy to speak clearly. A friend of the father's told him about Rotaplast coming to Retalhuleu with doctors that could fix his sons palate,and that he should take his son there. They traveled 10 hours by bus to get here.
Father: "There are no words to express the appreciation for all of you (the Rotaplast team). Thank you to the doctors who do the surgeries that make our children normal. My son can now play and be understood by his sisters and friends. Maybe some day be able to go to school."
After working with this Rotaplast team for the past 4 days I got to wonder why all these doctors, nurses, and non-medical volunteers do this, why do they volunteer their time to come to places like this remote area of Guatemala? Retalhuleu is about 4 hours form Guatemala City. It feels like we are in a rain forest. So the question I posed is, why?
Dr. Al Goldberg who has been doing this for 28 years, says, "Why? For the kids and their mothers." "Why the mothers?" I ask. "Look at their eyes when we bring their children back to them after surgery, their eyes tell it all," He answered.
Dr. Don La Rossa and Dr. John Lee - "Because we can. It makes us feel useful to provide care for children in these places where there is no way they can get this kind of care."
Some of these doctors are retired, most are not and take time out from their practices to come on these missions. Some of the nurses are retired, but not all, and those who are not, take their vacations to come.
Jazmin is an 8 month girl with a cleft lip. Her mother and grandmother brought her to the hospital. They hitchhiked for nine hours from their home and got to the hospital on Monday. Jazmin is an only child, her father had to stay home to work. The grandmother has 10 children.
The surgery was a success. Some comments from the grandmother and mother: "I pray to God that he gives you all a bigger heart than you already have so you can continue to do this wonderful work and help us poor people. My baby now has a chance."
Daniel is a 14 month old boy with a cleft lip, he is one of five children, two boys and three girls. They traveled for 6 hours on 5 buses to get here.
The surgery was as usual a great success. The mother and grandma are so grateful to us for helping their little boy. Here are some of their comments:
- "God bless the people who made my son normal, and God give you the strength to continue to do this wonderful work for us and our children".
– The grandmother said "We are so happy, my grandson looks beautiful. May God multiply you all, and give you many more years of health to continue your wonderful work". She also sends greetings to our families.
Debora is 23 months old, an only child, and had a cleft palate, which means no palate. Debora and her mother came here by bus from Guatemala City on Monday and waited for us to arrive at the hospital on Tuesday. I was in the recovery room when Debora was brought in from surgery and I remember what Dr. Al Goldberg told me the other day when I asked him why he does this, he said " I do it for the children and the mothers, the story is in the mothers eyes." So I watched the mother when she first saw her little girl, and Dr. Goldberg was right, her eyes told the whole story and this is what she said when we asked her how she feels. "She is beautiful. I can only thank you all, especially for your focus on us less fortunate and poor people. Now that my daughter looks like the other children she can live a normal life, may God bless you".
Ceferino is a 12 year old boy who came to us with a serious defective nose. He has had 4 previous surgeries including a cleft palate and a cleft lip repaired by a previous Rotaplast mission. His mom and he came on Sunday from Antigua, Guatemala and it took them over 15 hours. This is normally a 3 hour car drive. They walked and hitchhiked, but they got here. The cleft lip repair was a success, but Dr. Julie Herndon took a look at him and determined that he did need a great deal more work on his teeth, but he look great. His mother said, "My son is now very happy and will be able to go to school and play with other children and not be teased. This surgery changes his life. If it weren't for Rotaplast, he could not have gone to school and none of the other children would have had anything to do with him. They are like different children when they see the miracle of these surgeries".
Day 2 of surgery ended with 14 surgeries successfully completed. Everything from severe cleft lip to serious cleft palate and more.
I want you to see the following before and after photos so you can appreciate the miracles these surgical teams perform:
Patient #3 before surgery:
Patient #3 after surgery: