This is a photo of Sallie Weissinger, our wonderfully spirited interpreter:
I've decided to dedicate today's post to some of the many stories and photos that she comes out of the OR and PACU with. Just about every day I've seen her energetically snapping pictures and taking notes, composing her own special memory of our trip here in Lima. If I had more room I'd post everything handed my way. In fact, I think I will.
"For her entire life Juana (Lobatóu de Gamboa), a 58-year old widow, has wanted her cleft lip repaired. Unable to afford the 12,000 soles (over $4,000 USD) for an operation, she traveled 19 hours by bus to us. In this photo, taken the day after surgery, she is surrounded by Rotaplast doctors Milton Solis and Al Goldberg. After her long-awaited operation, she'll stay in Lima long enough to attend the post-clinic and then take her long bus ride back home."
"Luhana Milagros' (Verusla Chavez) mother, a single parent, works in a bakery and brings her four-month old daughter to work with her. She brought Luhana 10 hours by bus to have her cleft lip repaired and plans to return on our next mission for a palate repair. Her mother said she wants her daughter's lip and palate fixed 'so children won't discriminate against her, so she can eat and drink normally, and so she can pronounce her words'. In the PACU recovery room, she told nurses Sadie Clausing (pictured) and Joanne Gillespie 'ustedes son unos angeles- you people are angels.'"
"Alejandra Bobadilla Carita is 9 yrs old and is an A student at school. She has lots of friends and loves to read and sing. Her dream, though, is to be able to improve her speech with a repaired palate and speech therapy. Born with both a cleft palate and lip, she has had her lip repaired. Unfortunately, she has had six attempted palate operations to close a fistula. Her father said he had given up hope until he saw that the doctors from overseas were coming. We're hoping our operation on Monday- the 4th operating day- is her final one and that she'll learn to pronounce her f, p, and s sounds."
"Five-year old dark-eyed beauty Daniela (Flores Nicolas) was wearing a Cinderella nightgown when she went into the OR. 'She thinks she's a princess,' her mother told us. And we certainly want her to be. After a failed fistula repair done two years ago, Dr. Don LaRossa tried again, [but] the medical team is concerned about the outcome because of the size of her fistula and the relative scarcity of local tissue to close it. If the repair doesn't hold, we have Plans B and C: an obturator and a tongue flap once she's older. But we're hoping this will work for Princesa Daniela."
There are so many amazing stories here, and I'm glad Sallie is around to help remember them. After seeing her picture with Princesa Daniela, I recalled our very first day at the hospital and a cute little girl coming up to me alone, tapping my leg for a photo.