He stood there outside pacing in the dark, as any nervous father would, illuminated only from the light that streamed out from the Pediatrics ward where every other child and parent had already been reunited post operation.  He is from the semi-nomadic and much-respected Maasai tribe, easily identified by the beautiful red cloth he wears, called a Shuka.  As he sees me approaching, he freezes.  I give him a thumbs up and motion him to come with me.  His 8yr old daughter Indito was the last cleft lip repair for the day.  As we walked through the Mount Meru Hospital campus, I tried to make hand motions to convey how well the surgery had gone and that his daughter was just now waking up.  Nothing.  Stoically we walked more in silence as I thought about how badly I wish I spoke the local language at this very moment.  Then quietly he whispered to the darkness of the night, and perhaps me, “can’t wait”.  We smiled at each other like two old friends and walked into the PACU.

The first day of operations went very smoothly.  23 people, some of who had never worked together or even met, were quickly in lock-step with each other.  Watching the operating room, stuffed with medical personnel (Surgeons, Doctors, Nurses, Anesthesiologists, Assistants), adeptly maneuvering around each other and the double-operating beds placed to perform as many surgeries as possible, was like watching a dance.

[Pictured (top): Jann Johnson (Surgeon). (Bottom): Devi Tantri (Surgeon) and Salman Dasti (Anesthesiologist). Dennis Dundas (Medical Director) and local assistant. Caroline Ablort-Morgan (Occupational Therapist) and Ellen Adams (PACU Nurse)].

[Pictured, L->R: Dennis Dundas, Neal Fleming (Lead Anesthesiologist), Rebecca Orlino (CRNA), Salman Dasti, and local medical nurses and assistants].

[Pictured, L-R: Salman Dasti and Rebecca Orlino].

Every surgery was a success, and then the patients were off to the PACU room to be brought back to consciousness and monitored for all their vitals.  Many beautiful moments took place in the PACU, a child waking up for the first time with a full lip they could run their tongue back and forth over in disbelief, a mother or father reunited with their child and beaming with pride and gratitude.

[Pictured, L-R: Ellen Adams, patient’s mother, Marguerite Fleming (PACU Assistant), 3 mos. old patient].

[Pictured, L->R: Neal Fleming, Steve Brozosky (Quartermaster), Dennis Dundas, Rene Clement Vreuls (Lead Pediatrician), Bryan Stamm (Pediatrician)].

One father was so overjoyed he said, “I am not a rich man, what you have done for my child- thank you, thank you- I will pray for the doctors every day of my life.”