Monday, February 4, 2013


February 4, 2013

There is always one patient on every trip who is a heartbreaker for Lori and I. Sometimes it is the same child and sometimes not. Many of the stories of these patients tug at your heartstrings. The children who are born with deformities and many who have been burned after birth. There are so many burn patients in third world countries just because of their life styles. Cooking over an open fire and living in grass and wood huts and sleeping under mosquito netting. Using fire to keep warm at night.

My heartbreaker was a 6 month old with a cleft lip. I saw him in the morning on rounds and couldn't wait to see the final result. But he couldn't be done because when he came to the OR he had a respiratory problem. We sent him for a chest Xray and I hoped it would come back negative. But there was some question surrounding the results and our pediatrician who is nothing short of a genius (I think I get smarter just being in the same room with him) cancelled the surgery. Later that day he developed a fever so I know it was the right decision. But I couldn't bear to see the mom when she was told. Young and scared and full of hope for her child. I hope another organization can help him in the future.

For Lori it was a young girl of about 10. She was chubby which, as you can imagine in a land of petite, beautiful women, is hard in itself. And I can certainly relate to weight issues. She needed a lip revision. Her mother told us the kids at school made fun of her and they were both so happy to have an opportunity to have surgery. She did have her procedure but it still brought tears to our eyes to hear her story.

Then there was the 30 year old mom with a seizure disorder. She had a seizure while cooking over an open flame and burned one side of her face and neck. She could not lift her head up because of that. She was there with her mother and eight year old son. There was a lot of trepidation about her surgery to release her neck contracture due to her medical condition but it was successfully accomplished and she did great. She still needs more procedures and again, I hope she is somehow able to have them.

So although this sort of thing isn't for everyone I think you can see why I would give up my vacation, work 12 hour shifts and travel to some questionable locations. It is rewarding beyond belief. And it makes the world a smaller, kinder place.

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