The last clinical day was almost like a reunion. We had been hoping that the majority of our patients would return for post-op exams, to be checked for infections and any complications. Thankfully, many of the 115 patients we worked on returned.
Robin and his mom returned, and, of course, he was a whirling dervish of energy and joy.
Many of the patients and their families were quietly contemplative, but effusively grateful to the medical staff and even to the lay volunteers, too.
When the final exam was finished, we packed up the last 17 crates of equipment and supplies. We were left with exactly half of the 34 crates we brought with us 10 days ago.
That night we showered and changed at our hotel in Guatemala City and attended a celebration of the mission’s success at the estate of our Rotarian hosts, Elisa Castillo Sinibaldi de Ramirez Portilla and her husband, Carlos Ramirez Portilla. Carlos was the founder and President of the Rotaplast Foundation of Guatemala, and he served as its leader for 14 years.
In his cavernous living room, Carlos announced that the new president of the Foundation will be Dr. Milton Solis, the gifted local plastic surgeon who worked on Robin, among dozens of other kids.
Our mission leader, Randy Floyd, spoke to the crowd and reported that the 115 surgeries we performed had a retail value of almost $400,000, but that paled in comparison to the human value we added to hundreds of our patients, their families and their communities.
The leader of the Rotary Club of San Jose (CA) Rotaplast mission, Cyndie George, later said that when people ask her, “doesn’t your heart break seeing these unfortunate kids?” She answers that it actually heals our hearts to do this work, that we benefit as much as our patients. More profound words have not been spoken. She also thanked the scores of generous donors from our Club who gave the nearly $100,000 necessary for this mission. We thank them as well as the many donors to the Rotaplast organization.