Some kids and their parents travelled over 400 kms for the opportunity to have free plastic surgery to repair facial malformations.
They had heard that a volunteer team with Operation Rainbow Canada was coming to India in late 2015. HPIC equipped the team with all the anesthetics needed for surgery, which were donated by AstraZeneca Canada. HPIC also provided donated sutures and other important medicines.
“They are polite and patient,” wrote Dr. Rai, the team leader. “Even post-surgery, they complain of pain very little. They have not seen at all or rarely seen Caucasian people and are very courteous about wanting to take pictures with them. I feel good that we are able to help and improve the lives of these unfortunate patients.”
Over 100 patients, some as young as three years old, received life-changing surgery over the two-week mission in November 2015. Most surgeries were to repair facial malformations, some were to improve problems caused by major burns. ORC’s priorities are babies, children, and young adults. The earlier the surgery is done in a child’s life, the less psychological trauma there will be. But when time permits, adults also benefit from life-changing surgery.
“(Early in the morning) the patients are silent and I wonder what goes across their minds. They trust us foreigners with their lives for a better outcome. Whatever little we can do to help them to face a new world with confidence, we are grateful,” Dr. Rai says.
“Their smiles show their appreciation and thanks. Even though they cannot speak our language, they show they are on the road to start a new life.”
One young woman who is experiencing a fresh start is Madhu. The report to HPIC related her story:
“Born to a poor family and orphaned when she was young, she was raised by her sister and they still live together.
“Her sister heard about the opportunity for the surgery, took the five-hour bus trip to the hospital, and stayed with Madhu throughout the process. They are poor farmers and Madhu doesn’t talk much due to her cleft lip, but the team could feel that she has a very pleasant personality in spite of her condition.
“Many patients look a bit puzzled and stare in disbelief at the stranger staring back at them in the mirror. Madhu was no different and she quite liked looking at her reflection. Mary, the recovery nurse, gave her a mirror to take home. After many years of disappointment trying to get assistance, Madhu’s sister was so very grateful that they made the long journey. We were glad that they took this chance as well.
“Every time I do a mission it reminds me how lucky we are in Canada to have all the necessary healthcare we could ever need.”