It is Thursday October 16th, the seventh and final day of surgery. It is hard to believe that this mission is coming to the end. It feels like we have just arrived and there is so much more that could be done if we could stay longer but for now we have to appreciate the work that has been accomplished and know that there will be more missions and more children in the future that will be able to receive this life changing surgery. There could not be a better story to highlight today then that of Reynald Pacilan. Reynald is 6 years old and comes from a small island north of Cebu which is approximately 7 hours away. He arrived with his grandmother and through interpreters we have learned that his mom left the family just after he was born. Dad works in construction in Manila to ensure the family has money to live on and it is the Grandparents that are responsible for raising him. Reynald does not say much but he has bright shiny eyes, a big smile and a very magnetic personality. When you take a photo of him he ‘poises’ with his two fingers under his chin in what we have come to learn is the ‘cool’ or ‘handsome’ stance.
Earlier in the week Reynald had palate surgery however he didn’t understand that he wasn’t having lip surgery at the same time. When he came back up to the ward after surgery and realized that his lips had not been done like the other children he began to cry and covered his face with his blanket. Today this last day of surgery Reynald is getting the smile he has been looking for and we will all be there to see him wake up. He tells us he just wants to not be made fun of the by the other children at school. The final outcome is perfect thanks to our wonderful surgical team and we are pretty certain Reynald is going home to some pretty surprised schoolmates…oh to see him in the future!
They say it takes a village to raise a child and it certainly takes a team to complete a Rotaplast mission but none of this would be possible without the surgeons that volunteer their time and talent for these missions. Having the opportunity to view our three surgeons in action there are simply no words to describe their skills. Carefully and gently cutting into little lips and palates removing, rearranging and finally recreating smiles that will last a lifetime. This surgery that means so much to these young lives is ever present on the minds of our surgeons. As they work to put the pieces of the lips back together you know they understand the importance of doing their very best work… every time. They are the masters of these portraits and their skill and creativity will live on in these children’s lives forever and in our memories long after this mission is over. On this trip we have had the talents of three outstanding and dedicated surgeons; Dr. Rod Simonds from San Francisco California on his 10th mission, Dr. Frank Walchak from Spokane, Washington on his 23rd mission and Dr. Devi Tantri from Akron, Ohio on his 4th mission. These particular doctors have been wonderful to work along side this past week particularly for those of us that are the non-medical volunteers. They have indulged our many quesitons (large and small) explaining the what and why of the surgical procedures and the various situations of the individual patients. Make no mistake these doctors were great both on and off ‘the court’ with words of encouragement and endless humor; this is a keeper team of surgeons.
Dr Rod Simonds – San Fransisco
10 Rotaplast Missions
Dr Frank Walchuk – Spokane, Washington
23 Rotaplast Missions
Dr Devi Tantri – Akron, Ohio
4 Rotaplast Missions