Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Genesis and her Mother

Meet Genesis and her Mother.   She is an eleven year old who was born with a congenital heart defect and a cleft palate.  Her heart defect was repaired when she was an infant by a team from New York.  However there was no team that would repair her cleft palate.  According to her family she is a very good student, but found school difficult due to her speech.  She wants to be a doctor and asked her family once again to bring her to a team that did cleft surgeries.  Normally children with heart defects are considered hig risk, but she had been doing well, had regular check ups with the local cardiologist.  Our pediatrician, Bob McGrath is also a cardiologist and he felt that she was no higher risk than any of the other children we operate on.  Her surgery was done the first day and inspite of some bleeding after surgery she has done well and even this early her mother notices some improvement in her speech.  She will need speech therapy to learn to use her repaired palate, but I am sure she will do well.  At her post op visit she still wants to be a doctor.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Will Work for Mangoes

Today we given mangoes by the families of 3 of our patients.  In total there were about 60 of the fruit or 5 per team member.  Thus it seemed appropriate to learn a bit more about the fruit.

Part of our mango gift

The following is taken from Wikipedia.

The mango is a fleshy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to India from where it spread all over the world.

Mango is now cultivated in most frost-free tropical and warmer subtropical climates; More than a third of the world's mangoes are cultivated in India alone second being China.

Mango peel and sap contains urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac that can cause urushiol-induced contact dermatitis in susceptible people.[19] Cross-reactions between mango contact allergens and urushiol have been observed.

In mango fruit pulp, the antioxidant vitamins A and C, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, other B vitamins and essential nutrients, such as potassium, copper and amino acids are present. Mango peel and pulp contain other phytonutrients, such as the pigment antioxidants – carotenoids and polyphenols – and omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The mango is the national fruit of India,[46] Pakistan, and the Philippines.[47] The mango tree is the national tree of Bangladesh.[48]

In Hinduism, the perfectly ripe mango is often held by Lord Ganesha as a symbol of attainment, regarding the devotees potential perfection. Mango blossoms are also used in the worship of the goddess Saraswati. No Telugu/Kannada new year day called UGADI passes without eating ugadi pacchadi made with mango pieces as one of the ingredients. In Tamil Brahmin homes too mango is an ingredient in making Vadai Paruppu on Sri Rama Navami day (Lord Ram's Birth Day) and also in preparation of pachchadi on Tamil new year day.

The left picture shows a nice way to eat the mango.

Thus we received a gift that was not only healthy, but contans a lot of history.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Weekend Away but Never Off Call

As we finished a successful week, we headed up the coast for some R&R.  The place we picked out is the Punta Sal resort which is about 120 miles north of Piura. We traveled through some very arrid country where the only thing we saw was number of oil wells and some goats.  Arriving at the resort in time for lunch.  After checking in everyone headed to the beach.  After dinner some stayed up to dance and some went to bed to catch up on sleep.
Sunday morning the weather was clear and more time was spent by the beach or the pool.

Our beachfront cabins

A beautiful full moon

The team doing some power shopping

Just as many of us were getting ready to leave there was a frantic call from the pool area for a "medico".One of the women had dislocated her shoulder. The team was mobilized and under the direction of Ian we were able to put things back in place.
After the shoulder reduction

No one really wanted to leave, but we still have many patients on the schedule for next week.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The First Week

We have come to the end of the first week and are now ready to relax for a day and a half at the beach.
We helped 28 children to lead more normal lives by correcting their deformities.  In addition to many cleft related caces, there was a teenager with a severe burn on his neck, some hand burns and a congenital hand deformity.
The weekend will be at a beach resort soaking  up a little sun and recharging our battgeries.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Carlos Volunteer Extraordinary

When we arrived the first day for clinic we were enthusiastically greeted by a gentleman that I recognised from three years ago.  He was in his volunteers smock, looking very professional.  I decided to find out more about him.  At first he did not want to talk about himself, but we worked on him and finally got the story.
He was born in Peru 75 years ago of parents with a Chinese background and married a woman from Japan.  After working many years in Peru in buisness administration, he moved to Japan until he was ready to retire.  To get his pension for time worked in Peru, he had to return. That was about 8 years ago and he has not yet cleared the paperwork.
To keep from being bored at home he started volunteering at the hospital.  He had received much help from others during his life, and he felt it was time to give back.  To quote him "A person who doesn't live to serve, doesn't live".


He does many things for us including getting lunch.  Helping with the children and families. 
He also likes to work with the volunteer groups because he knows most of are are here to help and not for our own gain.
I for one am proud that he chooses to work with us.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Andy is a 4 month old who has a cleft lip and palate.  Because his mother is so young he is in foster care.
Today we did the first of several procedures to reconstruct his deformity

Andy with his foster mother

Andy asleep in ther operating room

Andy after his surgery

Monday, 5 December 2011

Screening Clinic

As is the tradition, the first day is spent seeing all the patients our local hosts have identified as possible candidates for surgey.  After a nice breakfast we headed to the hospital which is about a mile away.
Hospital Cayetano Heredia

There were about 120 patients to be seen. It always amazes me how patient they are it takes most of the day to see them all. Many are not candidates for surgery and we must explain why we cannot do their surgery. This often takes longer than the ones we are able to help.
Patients and families waiting patiently
Ian Wilson examining a patient
Getting pediatric clearence from our pediatrician Bob McGrath

Sunday, 4 December 2011

First day in Piura

The team has assembled. Even though we came from 4 countrys (US, Canada, Panama and Uruguay), we all arrived within an hour of each other.  After claiming luggage and equipment we headed to the Ramada which was right across from the airport terminal for a short night rest.  This noon we headed up the coast about 500 miles to settle into our hotel which is from the colonial era.

Waiting to board the plane to Piura

Collecting the supplies
Our first dinner

After dinner we returned to the hotel which is across from the main church in town. There was a band concert. Would like to think that it was for our arrival, but Thursday is a major festival.
Tomorrow the real work begins as we see about 100 patients and decide who we can help. The hard part is turning some down.