This is possibly the best day of all! The medical team had encouraged all patients to return to the hospital for a post-op appointment, and the majority came back. The surgeons took a look at their healing process and gave the patients kudos for following their original instructions, and then they are given additional advice for the next few weeks. I had the joy of looking at almost every face (and inside the mouth) to see the results of all of our hard work. The cover photo today is of the same mother and daughter that appeared on Day Four.

I hope you can imagine what those little faces look like in 4-6 weeks when the swelling subsides and the scabs have dropped off. So much of the work happens inside the mouth. And many of our surgeries were ‘secondary’, meaning that they have had a prior surgery on the lip and we are doing the palate. Thus, some faces don’t necessarily show dramatic results. Nevertheless, they are still heart-stealers!

One of our proudest successes was with a young man about 12 years old who received 2 procedures. First was a cleft lip surgery and second was the insertion of a prosthesis that fits into the cleft in the hard palate. In his first assessment, his ability to speak was almost nil. After these two procedures, we observed his speech was about 85% intelligible! He will have follow-up speech therapy and will live a normal life.

Big shout-out to the Colombian Army! El Ejercito de Colombia, Brigada 7, to be exact. They provided so much fun in the waiting room, they brought platano flour and nutritional information to the patients, and provided a mountain of support in transportation and security. Today the Sergeant made a couple of videos for their own publicity purposes. They interviewed a patient’s mother and then us, all in Spanish, about Rotaplast, and the surgeries to underscore their commitment to the civilian community.

Here are some more of our patients and their new best friends.

Dr. Claudia Santosa and Batman!

Ellen Boesner, a very dedicated Ward Coordinator and Nancy, who took a shine to her.

Molly Tackabery had the role of bringing the patients to the pre-op, where Laura McLeran did hemoglobin and pregnancy tests, right before surgery. These women were intrepid in soothing fears, and sharing love.

This one will be on the cover of Vogue someday!

A pirate and Luisa Poquiz, a big fan of his!

This mother and son both had surgeries! Cleft deformities are partially hereditary, partially caused by lack of folic acid in the diet.

Margoth Nunez of New York, and a hard working OR nurse, was part of every surgery. She not only brought her OR skills and dedication but her humor and playfulness was always there for good morale.

I could go on and on. Let me end by saying that this is where the rubber meets the road for the team. When others make us out to be heros, Marilyn Santiago says, “I’ve done this 26 times and I am the lucky one. I feel privileged to be here. It’s a joy! It’s almost selfish to be a part of creating new faces. I’m honored to meet my peers all over the world. My joy is greater than my gift. This is the best thing I ever did for me!”