Scenes of Hope: Koforidua Medical Mission

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Four-month-old Godwin and his mother wait for his comprehensive medical evaluation on the first day of patient screenings at Eastern Regional Hospital during Operation Smile’s medical mission to Koforidua, Ghana, in November 2017. Uniting from across Ghana and around the world for Operation Smile's first-ever mission to Koforidua, our medical volunteers screened 329 patients to determine if they would be able to receive surgery during the week long surgical program. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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Charles Addo, a child life specialist from Ghana, welcomes a young patient on the first day of screening. Child life specialists like Charles are responsible for creating child-friendly environments during the medical mission and provide psychosocial care that helps guide patients and their families through the surgical experience. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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The electronic medical records team works during first day of screening in Koforidua. An essential component of the mission process, electronic medical records ensure that our patients’ vital statistics and individual medical needs are accurately logged for reference both during the mission and for future treatments from Operation Smile. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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Four-month-old Abdul is comforted by patient imaging technician Ahmed Ibrahim of Egypt on the first day of screening at Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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At the nurses’ station, recovery room nurse Joyce Donker of Ghana plays with young patient Abdul as she performs his evaluation. During this part of the screening process, nurses record a patient’s height and weight, blood pressure and other vitals. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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Paediatric resident Emmanuella Amoako of Ghana and anaesthesiologist Amaia Arana of the United Kingdom provide a patient with a comprehensive medical evaluation. Paediatricians and anaesthesiologists check patients’ airways and breathing to ensure they can safely receive anaesthesia. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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Cleft surgeon Dr. Opoku Ampomah of Ghana consults with Veronica, a 55-year-old patient who received cleft lip surgery from Operation Smile in 2015. Team leader of the Koforidua medical mission, Opoku is the medical director of Operation Smile Ghana and the director of the National Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.

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Sixteen-month-old Daniel is assessed by speech pathologist Salmah Kola of South Africa. Consulting with a speech pathologist provides parents with valuable information on how to feed infants with cleft conditions and guidance on how to teach their children exercises to improve their speech. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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Patients and their family members board a bus to return to the patient shelter from Eastern Regional Hospital. A collaboration between Operation Smile Ghana and the Peace Corps, the patient shelter is where medical mission attendees stay during the weeklong program. Like the surgeries, these accommodations, as well as food, water and bus transportation from Ghana’s regional capitals, are all provided free of charge. For many, the coverage of these costs is what makes their or their child’s surgery possible. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.


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The day after screenings conclude, patients and their families wait anxiously to learn if they or their children have been selected for surgery. Out of respect for the dignity of patients and their caregivers, Operation Smile Ghana opts for one-on-one consultations to break the news, which can be either joyous or disheartening. Patients who have not been selected for surgery during the mission consult with physicians who explain the reasons why and offer next steps for their cleft care journeys. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.

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The moment Christiana's mother learned that her 2-year-old daughter would be receiving surgery was one of pure joy. Photo: Zute Lightfoot.

The story continues in “Scenes of Healing: Koforidua Medical Mission.”

 
 


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“Every child that has a facial deformity is our responsibility. If we don’t take care of that child, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.”

- Kathy Magee, Operation Smile Co-founder and President