All hands on deck at the Vijay Heart and General Hospital!
It’s still dark outside and the team, who has gained another member overnight, enjoy a quick breakfast, a pep talk and we are off to meet the families. As expected, families whom we have met before are anxiously waiting outside for the doors to open to start. A certain amount of surgeries are scheduled for each day, some for the morning and some for the afternoon. The doors open at 8 am and surgeries start almost immediately. The identified families enter the ward, our patients are prepped and then, the magic begins!
The level of anticipation and anxiety is palpable as the children are wheeled away into the operating room. Each family is given an idea of how long the surgery will be and what the immediate results may be, so that they are put at ease as best can be, as the process begins.
Once the patient is out of surgery they are wheeled into the post operative surgery waiting room, where, when appropriate, the families are invited to see their child or family member. Emotions run high as the parents witness the immediate results of the surgery. They are affirmed that the child is safe, and now the healing process begins. The children are released to the ward, where they will spend the night before meeting with the doctor on the morning after to receive clearance to leave. Some of the patients will be asked to return at the end of the mission, so that all can witness the initial transformative impact of Rotaplast!
Walking around the clinic, I start to meet the individual families, some of whom will be forfeiting their daily wage of 40 cents to remain at the hospital for this next week – some of whom have taken public transportation for up to seven hours to arrive at the hospital – some of whom know the process because this may have been their second, third or fourth surgery to correct their cleft palette, burned body or cleft lip! Their ability to continue in this process of restoring their smile is dependent upon medical teams who provide a free service, such as Rotaplast.
As the children prepare for the surgery, Michelle, the recreation therapist, delivers hand made quilts to each of the patients. They choose the quilt that will accompany them to surgery giving them comfort and warmth before, during and after their procedure. It is a familiar face as they start to awaken, surrounded by their attentive families and loving hands.
It is a long and fruitful day for all involved. We will begin again tomorrow, where I would like to start to introduce you to some of the families and share their stories!