The pre-clinic is generally the busiest day of the week – this mission was no exception. There were over 350 people waiting outside the hospital when we arrived at 6:45 am. Each medical professional, dentists/orthodontists, pediatricians, nurses, and surgeons had their own station to screen prospective patients to see who was eligible for surgery.
Many of these children are ashamed and embarrassed by their cleft lips and/or palates and don’t like being in large groups due to social scrutiny – the Rotaplast pre-clinic is an exception.
It is a rarity that over 150 children with cleft lips and/or palates are in the same location at the same time. It was wonderful watching them play and befriend one another in the comfortable pre-clinic environment.
By the end of the day we saw over 185 patients and scheduled the eligible ones for surgery later in the week. There were some patients that were not in good enough health to operate on or had conditions that we could not help with. Throughout the day a steady stream of people continued to come into the hospital seeking operations.
It is expected that at least 10 more prospective patients will arrive every day until we leave Guatemala. We had many local translators, Rotarians, and volunteers helping us at the pre-clinic. It was amazing to see the support of the local Rotarians and Guatemalans.
There is such a need for service here and we are so thankful to all of the individuals who made this mission possible with special mention of John and Marti Street's generosity to commemorate the memory of Kathryn Street Hoffman and George Hoffman. Tomorrow is the first day of surgery, and I am curious and excited to see what will unfold.