A cleft palate is a cleft palate.
But the patients are always different.
They come from different towns with different stories and different faces. And that is why each trip to the same city, Antigua, is different – but just as rewarding as the last.
On August 15, 2009, a Surgicorps team of 47 volunteers (25 on their first mission) from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Boston, Connecticut and California met in Guatemala for a week-long mission of surgeries and related medical care. Same hospital, same host staff – different patients, different lives to be impacted.
Seven days and 86 surgeries later, the team returned to the United States, and Surgicorps International added 86 names to the list of thousands whose lives have been improved in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia over the past 15 years.
Doctors, nurses, medical students, non-medical volunteers, all working daily in some large or small role to achieve the same goal: an improved life for someone in need. All working daily to feel what one volunteer, 16-year old Aarthi Ramesh, felt after working with her mother, an anesthesiologist, and her father, a general surgeon: “This might have been the best day of my life.”
Volunteer Gillian Roy shares her Bhutan experience
I knew that at some point I would sign on for a Surgicorps trip; its reputation is impeccable, its track record beyond impressive and besides, who can argue with the clarity and resolve of its mission?
Following the lead of some well-traveled and trustworthy friends, I made my first foray into this world of “voluntourism,” a week of service at your own expense in a foreign country. Now Bhutan was never on my travel hit parade, but I was jazzed about all the “firsts”: new place, people and challenges and all as part of a “medical” team.
I also was a little unsure of my own ability to do whatever was asked of me and not faint at the sight of – what? Let go, breathe, trust…. (more…)
In the midst of all the hard work, Surgicorps Team members had the opportunity to experience some of the traditions of Bhutan. At a local monastery, the team enjoyed a performance of local singers and dancers.
Kimley is a five-year old future basketball star, who entertained Team members with his hoop skills while waiting for his surgery time. Kimley was burned by an open fire, and the scar left him unable to fully extend his left arm. Surgicorps sees many burns from open fires in Bhutan and other developing countries.
After surgery and a splint on his arm, he was still able to charm Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, Queen Mother, when she stopped by for a visit.
Queen Visits Patients
Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, Queen Mother, visited Paro Hospital to meet many of Surgicorps’ patients during our Medical Mission Trip to Bhutan in April. She stopped by the bedside and talked with each patient. Her Majesty received a case update from Dr. Demos and Dr. Kim. The Royal Family is greatly loved by the people of Bhutan and many of the patients and family members were overwhelmed by her generosity and kindness.
After visiting with the patients, she hosted tea for the Surgicorps Team and the Paro Hospital staff to thank us for our work and make plans for the 2010 visit.
Update on Tandin Dorji
We first met Tandin Dorji two years ago when he was smiling and racing around Paro Hospital waiting for reconstructive surgery for a new nose. He had been attacked by a bobcat as an infant.
During our April 2009 Medical Mission Trip, Tandin was back to continue his reconstructive surgery. Now seven years old, he is pictured here waiting for his surgery.
During the April 2009 Medical Mission Trip to Bhutan, Surgicorps performed 62 life-change surgeries, a majority of which were for cleft lips.
2-year old Kiran, pictured here in before and after photos, was one of our patients. The team was able to repair his lip, helping him to better take nourishment, and improve his overall quality of life.
Luncheon with Royal Family
During its April Medical Mission trip to Paro, Bhutan, the team was received by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and Their Majesties the Queen Mothers for a special luncheon in Dechencholing Palace in Thimphu. His Majesty expressed his appreciation to Surgicorps International for the good work they did through these camps in many different parts of the developing world in general and the work they are doing in Bhutan in particular.
This was a great honor for the Surgicorps Team – much like meeting the President of the United States. To add to the excitement, team members donned the traditional clothing of a gho for the men and a kira for the women. After a week of scrubs, it was fun to see everyone dressed-up. After meeting the Royal Family, we better understand why they are so well loved by their people, and we were impressed by their graciousness.
Also attending the luncheon was Lyonpo Zangley Drukpa, the Minister for Health and Dr. Gado Tshering, Secretary, Ministry of Health.
Bhutan: April 10-22, 2009
Bhutan is a landlocked nation in South Asia, located on the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains. The country has limited health care services and physicians to meet the medical and surgical needs of its population. Surgicorps medical and non-medical volunteers work with the Bhutanese medical professionals to provide surgical services and share knowledge to help improve medical services in this mountain kingdom. (more…)
We are the brothers of Mangnezig. We are from the Masaii Tribe and our family raises cattle. Our family was herding our cattle across a stream during the monsoon. The fast water carried away one of our young cows. Mangnezig grabbed the cow by the tail to try and save it, but the cow and our brother were carried down stream. Our brother is very strong and he did not let go. When we found him, the cow was dead; both of Mangnezig’s arms were broken and most of the skin was missing from his back and legs. (more…)
My name is Nashel, I am from “Mana’s” village and I brought “Mana” to the clinic to see if the American doctors could fix her hands. Mana’s hands and face were burned very badly when the thatched roof of her family’s hut caught on fire and collapsed into the house. (more…)
10 years ago…She lurched into the public health clinic in Codo, Brazil on two grotesquely deformed legs. She was six years old and wore only underpants. Dr. Jack Demos and Dr. Vincent Silvaggio, surgeons on a medical mission to Brazil, knew immediately that they could not treat her in Codo. She would have to return home. (more…)
This irrepressible five year old was smiling and racing around the Paro hospital in Bhutan despite the fact that a wildcat had clawed off his nose when he was seven months old. He lives with his parents who tend a herd of 100 yak. Home is a tent in the Himalayas at 11,000 feet elevation. One day, after giving Tandin a bath, his mother left him in the tent while she went out to wash some clothes. A wildcat the size of a large dog crept in and mauled the baby. Returning to the tent, his mother discovered what had happened, bundled up Tandin and, along with her husband, made the three day trip by horseback to the Thimphu Hospital in the capital city where the baby was given emergency care. (more…)