The first day of surgery did not disappoint. In comparison to the pre-clinic the day was much more tame. There weren’t hundreds of people running around the hospital, which made it much easier to interact and get to know the patients. Many amazing stories surfaced throughout the day.
There was one patient, Ammy and her father Eddy who came in for cleft palate surgery. Her father spoke very good English and explained that he had lived in the United States for 10 years. He met his wife, also a Guatemalan, in South Carolina and they had 3 kids. Unfortunately, five years ago his wife was deported to Guatemala. She insisted that she take the children with her. Eddy stayed in the United States for a few months and sent money back to Guatemala for his family, he said that it was very difficult and that he would “cry and shake and didn’t know what to do” the work was better in the United States, but it wasn’t worth as much as being with his family.
He moved back to Guatemala a month later and had another child, Ammy, a wonderful and kind-eyed little girl with a cleft palate. They both live 6 hours away from Retalhuleu and heard about the Rotaplast mission on the television and decided that this was a wonderful opportunity Ammy.
Today was also the first opportunity to follow patients all the way through surgery, watching their transformation. This kid's name was Driber Dolphin Rameriz Rameriz – he was a feisty energetic kid. It was amazing to see the power of surgery first hand.
The majority of the patients on the first day were babies under a year. Their surgeries were exteremely dynamic and crucial. They will grow up without knowing the burdens of having a cleft lip. It is amazing to think about how different their lives would have been without this simple surgery.