Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Trip to India

I've returned from three weeks in India for Operation Smile - repairing cleft lip and cleft palates in children (and some adults) surgically.  I was about 24 hours in the air on three flights each way from Hawaii to India (the long way round) with about an added 10 hours in connections.  Basically 10 days in Guwahati, India in the far northeastern state of Assam, and a 7 day touring trip to Agra/Jaipur/Delhi, with four days travel.   Since the travel was so far to Guwahati, India I added a week at the end for my own sightseeing, and a few others joined me to see the Taj Mahal and the Amber Fort (among other sights). 
  The purpose, of course was helping children and others who had suffered from these facial deformities since birth.  With ten operating tables we were able to repair 233 patients in the five days we did surgery.  Other days were devoted to setting up and screening hundreds of patients.  It was incredibly hard work for our surgical teams (plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, Operating Room Nurses (me)) and the other volunteer members that are needed to make it a success, like pediatricians, recovery and floor nurses, speech therapist, dentist, medical records, photographers. 
   The group of about 60 volunteers were from many countries besides USA, including Egypt, Ireland, Sweden, Honduras, Paraguay, Columbia, Peru, Spain, Australia and Canada.  An international effort to aid desperately impoverished folks without a chance at the surgical care they need.  Most we saw came from very distant tea plantations to the east.  Assam state is north of Bangladesh, south of Nepal, and west of Burma.
       I'll include some of the photos from the Medical Mission below:
Outside the Hospital

Screening Interviews

Mother and daughter (with bilateral cleft lip)

Grandfather and son (with unilateral cleft lip)

In the OR for cleft lip revision with Donna

After lip revision

Looking at cleft palate

Repairing bilateral cleft lip in adult

Mother and baby in post-op and Donna

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