In January, Dr. Noah Siegel led a 23-member volunteer team to work at the Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua, Guatemala. This experienced and highly skilled team ran four operating rooms for five days completing 65 surgical procedures in total, including 37 cleft lips and palates, 24 microtia surgeries and 4 other procedures. The MMFC dental team provided dental care to 65 patients. Over 200 children were screened in preparation for and during the mission. Special thanks to our outstanding in-country team: Dr.Guillermo Gaitan, Padre, Odra and Anabela. It is a privilege to work with you every year on behalf of the children in Guatemala who would otherwise have no access to this medical care. Finally, a shout out to Terry Calvillo, Bethany Anderson, RN, Natalie Harris, RN and Xiomara who worked together to ensure that all of MMFC’s equipment and supplies reached their destination prior to the start of the mission – no small feat!
Dr. Siegel, all of us at MMFC and most particularly, the children and families of Guatemala who so desperately needed our surgical intervention – and who now have an opportunity to live healthy and dignified lives, want to express our sincere gratitude to the Lefkofsky Family Foundation for sponsoring this mission. The reverberations from your commitment and generosity will affect generations to come, and our respect cannot be overstated.
March 21, 2013
Adelle Franchek interned with MMFC during her last semester at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA during the fall 2012. She assisted in coordinating logistics for our medical and dental missions. Her internship with MMFC culminated in her participation in the February 2013 surgical mission to Batangas, Philippines led by Dr. David Kaufman. Here are Adelle’s observations and stories.
Sunday, February 10, 2013: Screening Day
Screening Day at Taal Polymedic Hospital and Medical Center began in the afternoon after the MMFC staff arrived in Taal, Batangas. Dr. Eric Tenorio welcomed us into his medical center along with the rest of the Taal Polymedic staff. The screening room was filled with about 40 patients and their family members.
The screening process for the patients and their families involved meeting with the doctors and nurses who examined the patients. The parents were given documentation about cleft lip and palate and during the consultations the parents received information about pre- and post-operative details.
The patients ranged in ages from infancy to young adulthood.
Monday, February 11, 2013: Surgical Day #1
The first surgical day began with patient Tristan, age four with a weight of 11kg. His parents, Ruby and Edwardo shared Tristan’s story while he was undergoing his procedure. The family lives in the village of San Piro, Balayan, which is located in the province of Batangas. Edwardo works as a construction laborer. In order to get to Taal Polymedic for Tristan’s surgery the family had to travel by tricycle to a bus station and then take a two hour bus ride into Taal. Thanks to the wonderful nursing team at Taal Polymedic and the MMFC staff Tristen had his cleft lip corrected. His parents are truly grateful to the doctors and nurses and look forward to seeing Tristen’s lip correction.
This is Loudes Miggy (M). He is two years of age and had a cleft palate before undergoing a reconstructive procedure at Taal Polymedic. In order to reach Taal Polymedic, Lourdes and his parents, Jincki and Kenneth, had to travel by tricycle and Jeepne from their home of Balebe, Batangas. Kenneth works as a barber in Balebe and both he and Jincki are very grateful to the Taal Polymedic and MMFC team for providing their son with the reconstructive surgery that will improve Lourdes’ quality of life. This surgery was a great success and the MMFC team did a wonderful job providing expert care to this little boy.
Tuesday, February 11, 2013: Surgical Day #2
Vince Archie came to Taal Polymedic last year during the MMFC medical mission in order to get his cleft lip repaired. Vince Archie also had a cleft palate which was not able to be corrected at that time. We are very pleased to see Vince Archie again this year, when he returned to have a procedure to correcthis cleft palate. MMFC loves to see patients return in order to get all of the life-changing procedures that they need. Vince Archie’s mother told us that Vince Archie has been doing quite well since last year and is thankful to those at MMFC who allow for Vince Archie to return and receive this second procedure. The MMFC team was happy to see Vince Archie return and now both cleft deformities have been successfully corrected.
This is Jaypee. He has undergone both a cleft palate and lip surgery during this MMFC mission. Jaypee and his family are very grateful to have this surgery because before this time he couldn’t go to school because he was teased by his classmates due to his condition. Prior to this surgery Jaypee would help his father, Lazaro, work the sugar cane fields as well as helping his mother, Josephine, tend to his younger siblings. Jaypee and his family travelled eight kilometers to come to Taal Polymedic for the corrective surgery for his cleft lip and palate. Now that his lip and palate have been corrected Jaypee will consider going back to school and continue his education. This surgery was life changing for both Jaypee and his entire family because it will provide Jaypee with new opportunities.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Today marks the end of a truly wonderful and successful mission. It was a very busy day, with 5 surgeries, two lip and three palate, as well as four obturator cases to follow. In total the team completed 24 surgeries. All of outcomes were great and will surely lead to beautiful smiles for all the children who underwent a procedure.
Today was a uniquely special day because it also marked the final surgery and mission for longtime volunteer (and board member), Dr. John Pook. Although this was a bittersweet time the team worked well and everyone enjoyed working alongside Dr. Pook. After his last and final case the MMFC and Taal Polymedic team surprised Dr. Pook with a cake. Immediately following the presentation of a cake to Dr. Pook, the entire MMFC team was surprised by all of the patients and their families who warmly thanked them for their time and services this past week. It was a very joyous time and many pictures were taken. It was the perfect culmination to a wonderful mission which will hopefully occur each and every year for many years to come. The MMFC team thanks Taal Polymedic and the doctors and hosts who helped to coordinate this very successful mission.
In November 2012, Dr. Arnold Lee and Dr. Pratik Pradhan led a 13 member volunteer medical team from the US and the UK. The team performed 40 surgical procedures during 4 surgical days at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center. Our gratitude to each and every team member – you were a stellar team in every respect. We would also like to thank Dr. Rhiza Valdez and the Maharlika Foundation for coordinating this mission in-country and for partnering with MMFC to provide much needed cleft surgeries in the Philippines.
We are also extremely grateful to the mission sponsors whose generosity made this mission possible: Nanci Gilmore, Brian Greene, Johnson & Johnson, Efstathia Mihelis; and the very special employees at ENT Specialists, Inc. We would also like to give a special shout out to Dr. John Pook and BMI Healthcare UK for the support they provide to MMFC from “across the pond.” The UK based NursingTimes.net published this article highlighting team member Ellen Paniamogan’s participation on the mission which brought her back to her homeland.
And as always, we left our hearts and best wishes with the children, their families and the wonderful hospital staff - until we see you again in November 2013!
March 21, 2013
In October 2012 Dr. Rafael Barrera and his 24 member volunteer team traveled to Quito Ecuador. This incredible volunteer team screened over 180 patients and performed over 100 surgeries in five days at the Hospital un Canto a la Vida: 35 lip and palate cases, 35 dental procedures under general anesthesia and 40 scar revisions. Many of the children traveled by canoe and horseback from the southern basin of the Amazon to Quito in hopes of being able to receive surgery. Our many thanks to our local coordinator Mary Kay Barrera for her hard word year round to pull this mission off. It could not happen without her! MMFC is also grateful to our dedicated sponsors and mission supporters: NSLIJ – Long Island Jewish Medical Center; Mr. Fuad Dassum; Mr. Pedro Alvarez; Mrs. Susana Alvarez; Mr. Alberto Rosales; Claudio Crespo, Patricia Jarrin; and Leonidas Naranjo.
This year we also had some wonderful translators, and our thanks goes to Bernardo Viteri, Matias Viteri, Margarita Barrera, Estefania Castro, Diego R. Barrera, Miguel Andrade, Maria Paula Rivadeneira. Together, this group of talented and generous people worked together to help so many Ecuador children in need – a true testament to teamwork.
The MMFC Dental team also did a superb job in providing care to 35 severely disabled children by putting each of them under general anesthesia so they could receive care. Many of these children suffered from severe autism, seizure disorders and cerebral palsy and had not had any prior dental care. This project grew out of an incredible need, the support and advocacy of Helpers of the Mentally Retarded (a San Francisco California nonprofit) and MMFC dental volunteers eager to take on this challenge. MMFC intends to provide this care on as many of its missions as possible.
All photographs were taken by team member Roberta Anslow.
October 3, 2012
From left to right: Denny Snyder, Yesiana Pizarro, Kathy Gantz, Prabhatk, K Carrello, Tammy Wang, Claudia Benkwitz, Michelle Johnson, Tracey O’keeffe, Veronia Sherwood, Gloria Hicks, and Byron Henry.
Yesiana Pizarro-Munoz is a valued MMFC Volunteer. She serves as Event Coordinator for our Annual Boston Gala and manages our cleft database. In September 2012 she traveled with MMFC as the Administrator on our Rwanda Cleft mission.
On September 14th Medical Missions for Children (MMFC) departed on its second mission this year to Gitwe, Rwanda – this time to restore lips and palates. Rwanda is located in central east Africa and few degrees south of the equator.
This mission was special; the whole team was full of first time visitors to Rwanda, with the exception of our Lead surgeon, Dr. Denny Snyder who has been to Rwanda a dozen of times, everyone was really looking forward to the experience. The team traveled about 24 hrs. to get to Gitwe. After close to 24 hours of travel we arrived in Kigali on Saturday night at 8pm. We moved through customs and met up with Vianney, our site coordinator. The bus drive to Gitwe, our final destination, took about two and a half hours; part of the trip was on paved highway, and the other on unpaved road, which was very bumpy and full of dust. About half way into our drive the bus suddenly stopped and everything turned pitch black. Thanks to our iPhones and quick flash lights there was light once again. Fortunately, the driver was able to start the bus but our head lights burned out. Because we were in the middle of nowhere, with no police around, we were able to continue driving by flash light!!We were thankful to our co-pilot John for holding the flash light for over forty five minutes to lead the way.
Jean De Dieu was one of our first patients on Sunday morning. He was very quiet but seemed very excited and persistent to get his surgery done. We believe he waited most of the night at the hospital gate because when we arrived and he was the first person in line to see us.
Jean De Dieu is only 15 years old; he lives in Muhanga, Nyabinoni which is about 4 hours from Gitwe. Jean was very determined for such a young man. He worked hard for the past three months to save money to pay for him and his mother’s transportation to Gitwe. He worked during the day feeding two cows and went to school in the afternoon.
Jean enjoys school very much, especially his teachers as they are very loving to him. He also enjoys his classmates but sometimes he feels lonely because some kids don’t like to play with him because of his deformity.
Jean expressed that his surgery will make such a difference in his life as kids will look at him differently. Yet he assures me that he will continue to be the same person on the inside, only his face will change. Most important he will focus on his studies.
Damoscene Nzabahimana is an Orphan from Kibuye. Damoscene lost both of his parents this year. When his parents passed away he had to drop out of school because he didn’t have any money for supplies, he was in 3rd grade. Damoscene decided to travel to Gitwe to find some work; he is staying with the village pastor and working at night delivering water. He is the youngest of his 4 siblings, all of whom left behind in Kibuye.
Damoscene actually found us by coincidence; he bumped into Vianney, as he was asking him for help in finding work. Vianney had to actually send a search party to find him because he lost him in the crowd. After his surgery Damoscene will go back to school, and Vianney will keep track of him making sure he stays in school.
We also had the privilege to meet Jean Paul, who was previously operated on by Dr. Snyder 2.5 years ago in March 2010. . He was a breath of fresh air; despite his condition he was warm, sweet, and happy. Jean spent the whole day with the team taking pictures, enjoyed lunch with us, and got to keep one of Dr. Snyder’s favorite surgical hats.
These are just some of the children the MMFC was able to help while in Gitwe in September. In total, the team performed 25 life-changing lip and palate surgeries. Since MMFC began traveling to Rwanda 6 years ago, MMFC has operated on hundreds of children and has provided medical and dental care to thousands.
MMFC’s missions to Rwanda are funded in part by the Greg Feldman, MD, Memorial Surgical Missions to Rwanda Fund. To find out more about Greg’s Fund, please visit our website at http://www.mmfc.org/Events/FeldmanFund/GregFeldmanMemFund.htm