Roberta Anslow is an artist and professional photographer who has been volunteering with MMFC for several years now. She designs MMFC’s print and web based marketing materials, and coordinates our annual Marshfield Charity Golf Tournament. This year Roberta went on her first MMFC mission as the trip administrator, where she put her artistic skills to work by documenting the week’s surgeries with a blog and some beautiful photos.
This past February, Medical Missions for Children returned to Angeles City, Philippines for a week of free cleft lip and palate repair surgeries. Thanks to the entire team of volunteer doctors and nurses, Holy Family Academy Batch ’83 (our host organization), and the Mabalakat District Hospital, 15 cleft lip repairs, 7 cleft palate repairs, and 2 lip revisions were completed in just four days. In addition, 10 patients were fitted for obturators.
Meet John Paulo
This is the story of John Paulo, one of many children Medical Missions for Children helped in Angeles City, Philippines. He is 8 years old and suffers from untreated asthma. John Paul0 was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. His lip was repaired at some point during his 8 years, but it was not done well and he was left with a very noticeable scar. Because of his cleft palate he doesn’t speak like other children and is bullied at school. When he eats, some of the food will come out his nose. A beautiful, sad, shy boy.
When he and his mother arrived for screening on Sunday, he was wheezing quite badly. We scheduled his surgery for Wednesday. The surgery he needed to correct the lip and close the cleft palate was estimated to be 2 1/2 hours long.
John Paulo arrived Wednesday morning for surgery, but his asthma was still bad. Our PACU team spent time treating him with a nebulizer filled with Albuterol, and after a couple of treatments, our Anesthesia team decided he was ready to go into surgery. During the almost 3 hours of surgery his mother huddled just outside of the operating room area. She did not want to be too far from her son.
Immediately after coming out of surgery, once in the PACU, he was again given Albuterol, and again the next morning. His lip and palate are fixed and now he will need to learn to speak all over again. Our local hosts, HFA Batch 83, will try to find and fund a pediatrician to treat his asthma.
Andrei is 6 years old and was born with a cleft lip. His two brothers don’t have any facial deformities, but a cousin on his father’s side does. Either the mother or the father can pass on genes that cause clefting. Cleft lip and cleft palate may be more likely to occur in pregnant women who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and take certain medications.
Andrei is in kindergarten and so far has not been bullied, and his cleft lip doesn’t affect how he eats. He has lots of friends, loves basketball, singing, and learning English. This is often not the case, however. Left unrepaired, cleft lips can unfortunately result in people being ostracized from their community, making it difficult to make friends and find work.
His mother found out about MMFC from her neighbor. The surgery was quick and successful, and both Andrei and his mother were excited about the changes this would bring about in him and the effect it would forever have on his life.
Angelique is 2 years old. She was born with a cleft lip, and at some time during her short life there was an attempt to repair it. As you can see, it wasn’t a very good job. Angelique was a team favorite, in part because she is a stunning child, but primarily because of her sassy attitude. You see that reflected in her photos.
The MMFC surgeons performed a lip revision on Angelique — an improvement from her initial surgery.
Angelique and her mother came back to the hospital 3 days later on our final day for her checkup. She was dressed up in her fancy headband.
Danica is 7 months old and was born with a cleft lip and palate. When she eats, food comes out her nose. Since she is so young she has not been bullied yet; nor does she get many strange looks. This would change as she gets older, though. Her mother was excited but also very worried about the surgery. Sometimes parents are so worried about the surgery that they never return with their children on the scheduled surgery day.
Thankfully, the team was able to schedule Danica for surgery despite her history of chronic coughs. She returned with her mother on the day of her surgery, and left with a repaired cleft lip.
Next year Danica will return to MMFC’s mission to have her cleft palate repaired. The earlier we can fix their palates, the easier it will be for these children to learn to speak and eat normally. Danica’s mother feels the surgery will make life easier for both herself and Danica.
See you next year, Danica!