The day started with another early breakfast and on the bus to the hospital at 6:15am.  Upon arrival, everyone got right to work setting up our different areas.  Notice the picture of Roger Schulte proudly displayed on the medical records check in table.  We had a group meeting regarding safety and emergency preparedness before we got busy with patients, demonstrating to us how much safety is important to our leaders.

Our supply room not only has the supplies we need for the surgeries, but it also has home-made quilts donated by Wrap a Smile based in Maine and managed by Rotary District 7780. These comfort quilts are created by quilters from all 50 states.  The quilts are packaged to ship with medical missions sponsored by Rotary (every Rotaplast mission has them). Each patient will receive a quilt prior to going into surgery.  It will stay with them during the surgery and recovery process.  The patient then gets to take the quilt home with them.

One of the first in line this morning was baby, Yeiner and his mother.  They were here yesterday for our clinic day and the baby was chosen as one of the first surgical patients of this mission.  Well, little Yeiner was not happy to be awake at this early hour and back here.  Working with children and adults with special needs, I came prepared to help distract young patients if needed.  I found a bright orange stretchy toy that I had brought and started playing with it in front of him.  He immediately stopped crying and started smiling.  His smile just melted my heart.  I gave the toy to him to keep him from getting bored and to distract him.  This little guy even stole the heart of the security officer.  The officer started playing with the toy, making it disappear and reappear behind his hand, stretching it and bending it to make noise.  Yeiner was loving it.  Using an interpreter, I learned that the mother left her home at mid-night Sunday night in order to be here at 7am yesterday.  She heard about this mission via word of mouth.  She wasn’t sure how the information got to the person who told her.  She hopes that this surgery is successful and helps her son. Little Yeiner had a cleft lip repair.

Photos: Yeiner with his mother; security guard playing with Yeiner; anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Karoukian with Yiener; prepping Yiener for surgery- Lead anesthesiologist Dr. Neal Fleming and anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Karoukian are monitoring Yiener; Yeiner and his mother in recovery room; Yeiner post-op

Andres also came in yesterday and was scheduled to be our first surgery today.  He came with his mother and did a great job.  Andres had a revision of his lip scar from a previous cleft lip repair.  Both mom and Andres left the hospital very happy.

Rosa Elena and Yaira were passing the time waiting for their surgeries by doing crafts with volunteer Nicole.  The crafts were supplied by Sandy Christensen.  Juan chose to just hang out with his mom.

Rosa Elena had a cleft lip and nasal revision. Photos: intake picture, recovery room

Yaira had a lip scar revision.  Photo: intake picture.

Juan had a lip revision.  Photos: intake picture, post-op

There was one other surgery today, Carolina had a cleft lip repair.  Photos: intake picture, recovery room, going home

The surgical picture above is of OR Nurse Evelyn Snyder, surgeon Dr. Rod Simonds, anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Karoukian, surgeon Dr. Angelo Capozzi, and OR Nurse Victoria Slama.

Our Lead Anesthesiologist is Dr. Neal Fleming.  He is an anesthesiologist at UC Davis in California.  He has been going on one or two Rotaplast mission a year since 1999.  He says “At one time or another all my kids and my wife have volunteered with Rotaplast.  It has changed our lives, individually and together.”  What an amazing family!

Sandy Christensen is from Southern California.  She is the president of the Pomona Rotary Club.  As a speech pathologist, cleft lip and palate repair is of special interest to her.  Though this is her first Rotaplast mission and visit to Columbia, she is a world traveller.  I bet her five grandchildren, all under the age of 9, would love the suitcase of toys, crayons, coloring books, crafts, beanie babies (over 130), and more.  All items she brought were donated by member of her Rotary club and friends.  She is the perfect person for the job of recreation therapist on this mission.

Tomorrow will be a day full of surgeries and more lives being changed for the better.