Twenty eight volunteers traveled to Nagamangala, twenty medical staff and eight support members. Our ages range from around thirty to north of seventy. Our Rotaplast experience ranges from zero (four of us are on our first mission) to over sixty missions (our Pediatrician Greg). A number of medical volunteers, like Greg, began participating in cleft palate/lip surgery missions before Rotaplast came into existence. They have worked in sites from Cebu City in the Philippines, to Lima, Peru; from Ethiopia to China; from Guatemala to Vietnam.
Vickie takes a patient to surgery
While all but two of our members are U.S. citizens, we still represent a wide range of birth countries: Vietnam, Burma, India, Chile, El Salvador, Netherlands, Ireland, and Iran, as well as the U.S. To hear us chatter with one another is to hear many variations in accents, including the tones of New York City and Texas.
Three physicians making morning rounds
We are all here because we choose to be and we all are dedicated to the completion of as many procedures as can safely be done in the time we have. The physicians are very careful in screening potential patients to assure that a surgery can be done without putting the patient’s life at risk, and that it will, in fact, result in an improvement in their circumstances. Very small infants with colds are turned away. They cannot safely tolerate the anesthesia. Others are turned away if their issues are too complex to be addressed in the time of our short visit. Most of the surgeries last around two hours. The longest has gone four and a half hours.
Hospital nurses in the post-op ward with a new patient
As our time together progresses, we share stories of our past Rotaplast experiences, about our families and work back home, and about the sights and happenings going on around us. We talk about religion and politics. We don’t always agree on these subjects, but we feel safe to share what we think.
Kim with medical records