Shock becomes hope
As mother, Sandra still remembers the fear she felt on the day she saw her daughter’s smile for the first time.
Having never learned about Genesis’ cleft condition from her prenatal ultrasound, Sandra cried in shock at seeing her baby. She’d never met anyone with a cleft before. And before Sandra could even take Genesis home to figure out what her next step would be, she was faced with another unforeseen obstacle. In addition to having a cleft lip and palate, Genesis spent seven days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) weighing only five pounds as a result of being born prematurely.
However, during their time in the hospital, Sandra met a neonatologist who shared information about Operation Smile Ecuador and the surgeries it provides children like Genesis. A few days later, he returned and told Sandra that he’d arranged an appointment for Genesis to meet with the organisation. While fearful and worried about her child staying in the NICU, the doctor’s news quickly filled Sandra with newfound hope.
Excellent care from all over the world
With a devoted community of volunteers who donate their skills, time and compassion to its mission, Operation Smile establishes a reputation for delivering surgical excellence and providing high-quality patient care on a global scale.
During the mission in Quito, post-operative nurse Cari Martin from the U.S., joined the team of local and international volunteers – representing countries including Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Finland – to help patients and their families feel safe and comforted throughout every step of the programme process.
Once all members of the volunteer team arrived at IESS Quito Sur Hospital, screening day began with more than 130 patients receiving comprehensive health evaluations. Medical professionals checked potential patients’ blood pressure and vitals to ensure that they were healthy enough to receive safe surgery.
The conclusion of screening day resulted in 80 children learning that they were placed on the surgical schedule.
Ongoing support before surgery
Volunteer paediatrician Dr. Elaine Kennedy from the U.S. examines Genesis during screening day. After receiving her comprehensive health evaluation, Genesis became one of the 80 children scheduled to receive a new smile.
Witnessing the care and attention that the medical volunteers provided every patient and their family during the mission wasn’t anything new for Sandra. A week after being released from the NICU, Genesis and her family travelled two hours to one of Operation Smile’s care centres in Quito where she received her first comprehensive health evaluation from medical volunteers. While Genesis continued to thrive and grow stronger from the ongoing support, Sandra also enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with other mothers of children living with cleft conditions.
For the next six months leading up to the November programme, Sandra brought Genesis to the care centre to receive annual check-ups and be fitted for an infant obturator, which is designed to make feeding easier and minimise the severity of the cleft palate.
Sandra felt anxious when the time came for Genesis to enter the operating room and receive her new smile. But once her daughter was placed safety back into her loving arms, she had a message for the people who’d been by her side throughout the entire journey.
The family is scheduled to return later this year for Genesis to receive cleft palate surgery.
Thank you very much Operation Smile.Sandra, Genesis’ mother, Ecuador