There is always one. Usually you can find them right under your nose, attached at your hip, grabbing for all the things you reach for, walking backward to just be in your gaze. One child stands out on intake day, not shy like most others, and you know they will be special to you. You search the schedule daily to see when their name pops up so that you can be sure to be there for every step of their journey through their operation. That little girl for me on this mission is Israt.
In Bangladesh, it is not uncommon to see entire hotel buildings covered in strings of little lights to celebrate a wedding reception. The lights often come low to the ground and children sometimes explore them by putting the lights in their mouth. For Israt, that resulted in an electrical burn up her lip when she was two years old.
As she had gotten older, the scar becomes larger between her lip and nose. As her mother puts it, she is “very unlucky”. But our Surgeons are masterful at reconstructing scars and decide to take the case.
I am honored to get the honor to swoop my little one up and bring her into the Operating Room. We giggle and sing as we walk down the short corridor and Israt becomes more suspicious the closer we get to the big double doors.
Once inside, David Stellway (Anesthesiologist) help Israt to sleep and monitor all her vitals to make sure she is safe. The swift and visionary Milton Solis (Surgeon) and Angelo Capozzi (Medical Director) make a quick strategy for her face and begin promptly to remove the old oblong electric burn from Israt’s precious face.
As she awakens from surgery, she leaps into her mother’s arms for solace. We gift her with new shoes that will grow with her (many children in Chittagong are barefoot and walk through unsanitary conditions daily).
And although I feel I have lost some trust with Israt for convincing her the OR corridor was a “fun place”, it’s nothing that a few stickers can’t begin to mend and the hope that our surgery was the beginning of her luck starting to turn.
[Pictured: Israt picking stickers, Jan Epstein (OR Nurse), Diana Deleon (Recreation Therapist)]
Here are a few more drastic before and after pictures.
This little boy was born with polydactyly where he has 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot that impaired his functioning. After surgery by the brilliant Wallace Change (Surgeon) and Adnan Uzunismail (Surgeon), he now has the regular number of 5 on each.
This young patient was sleeping under a mosquito net when part of it caught on fire and wrapped around his leg when he was very young. As he grew, the skin contracted, pulling his foot upward and interfering with his ability to walk and run. His father explained he is not in school because he is very shy since the accident. After surgery, he will be enrolled in school and start his “new life” the father exclaims.