by Mario Gutierrez
Normally our first day of surgery is a bit hectic as we all get to know each other and settle into our respective roles, making sure that all of the equipment is functioning and patients are all scheduled and checked and ready for surgery. However, for some reason this year our first day has gone very smoothly— almost too quiet. But then this afternoon we were treated to yet another remarkable Bhutanese special moment.
Surgicorps has been coming to Paro, Bhutan every year to perform free reconstructive surgery since 2007. During that time, 314 patients ranging from 5 months to 72 years old – although most are children — have benefited from the work of Surgicorps’ dedicated volunteers. One of the benefits of returning each year is the ability to perform needed follow-up procedures on the same child, and on occasion to experience the gratification of seeing the dramatic physical and functional changes that can occur as a result of the surgery. Today we had a double dose of Surgicorps smiles.
Wangdi first came to the Paro Surgicorps Camp in 2007 when he was 61, several years after he had been viciously attacked by a bear. (You may read his full story below.) To our surprise he made the trek again this year—but not for more surgery. As he explained, when he heard that the team was back in the country he wanted to come and personally thank us for how we’ve helped his life, and to have his picture taken again with “Superman Jack”.
Not more than an hour later, we receive a message that Kimley Tschering was outside and wanted to see us. His story, also posted last year, is below. So when he came into the room to see us this year, he raised his arms over his head with a big smile to show us all what a difference the surgery had made in his life. Kimley wanted to come see us in person to thank us. All of us broke into big smiles and spontaneous applause. Once again the kind people of Bhutan reminded us that what we do, no matter how small, is very much appreciated and can change a life for the better forever.
The next day, as we were walking to the hospital from our hotel, we came upon a beautifully painted rock with the 8th century teachings of Guru Rinpoche. One passage in particular captured what had occurred during the day and the true spirit of Surgicorps volunteers:
Do not take likely small misdeed,
Believing they can do no harm.
Even a tiny spark of fire can set alight a mountain of hay.
Do not take likely small good deeds,
Believing that they can hardly help!
For drops of water one by one, in time can fill a giant pot.