A Rotaplast surgical trip involves numerous components, resembling a symphony where each participant contributes to the overall harmony of the mission. Beyond the formal mission objectives, there are a couple of untold stories deserving of being shared.

Richard Ramos from the Rotary Club of Claremont in California is our Patient Transporter. He has created an additional role of Mission Ambassador and his engagement with the families extends well past his job description. Richard can be found at anytime during his downtime playing with the kids or offering support to the families in the waiting area. Even behind his mask, Richard’s smile and presence have left a positive impact on this mission.

Speech Pathologist Dr. Marlene Salas-Provance was an unexpected bonus for this Mission having been added to the roster just three weeks prior to departure. With the shortage in this specialized field, one is not always available. Her role is critical to the aftercare of the patients with cleft lip and palate surgeries. For babies up to two years of age, the parents are required to be educated about speech and language development. For the children with cleft palate, three years and older, who already have unintelligible speech, the parent’s role is crucial to improve their communication for long-term benefits after the surgery.

Rotarian and RN Evelyn Abad, Medical Team Coordinator for Rotaplast and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Nan Madden have a combined 47+ years of Rotaplast years, and each mission showcases their enduring commitment that continues to make a profound impact, inspiring others. An example of their influence came to light this trip. In 2008 a baby just a few months old was brought in for lip surgery, and in 2011 returned for palate surgery. This “baby” is now 15 and traveled with her mom and aunt from her island to Adventist Hospital Cebu to reconnect with Evelyn and Nan. She shared her memory book of early pictures and announced plans to go to nursing school – all because of her transformative experience as a patient and the love and support she received from Rotaplast. Saving Smiles, Changing Lives!

The thank you’s from the families continue to brighten our teams’ spirits – and the simplicity of this one from a young patient may express it best!