I would like to share with you the story of Yefri, a child in our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program. He was born February 19, 2013 in a rural community in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala with a severe cleft lip and open palate. Yefri had great difficulty nursing, became extremely undernourished, and, in all likelihood would not have survived without intervention. Thankfully, when Yefri was a month old, his family heard about a Partner for Surgery medical mission working nearby and brought him in for evaluation. And so began the 34 month effort for Yefri to become a normal, healthy child. He was placed in our Infant Nutrition program and his family trained in cleft infant care. His progress was monitored, surgeries scheduled, and his family instructed in the speech therapy so necessary to blend in with the other children in his community.
Yefri had his first surgery at 5 months but his lip opened again shortly after returning home. At 15 months, his palate was repaired but he began to recognize that he was different from other children and pulled at the flap forming part of his lip. At 26 months, he was pointing to other normal children and definitely ready for the surgery to correct his upper jaw and lip. Yefri’s mother was excited and anxious for the surgery because she knew her son desperately needed it and also would get wonderful care. As you can see from the photo just before his final surgery, Yefri needed extensive corrective procedures. After three hours of surgery, his surgeon, Dr. Virnelli of the Free to Smile team, said “Definitely one of the most challenging cases I’ve done in my life – and also the most satisfying.”
Yefri’s experience is unusual only in that he needed three surgical procedures instead of two and that his cleft lip and palate were more extensive than some of our other small patients. Partner for Surgery and the volunteer medical teams are grateful for the financial support from GlobalGiving which allowed us to prepare Yefri for a normal, productive life. Since our last report, 36 additional children have received cleft surgery and 142 are in our nutrition program getting healthy enough for the operations that will transform their lives. I hope from the bottom of my heart that you will continue to support our efforts.
We in Partner for Surgery would like to share with you the experiences of seven year old Kimberly, who had almost lost hope of getting desperately needed surgery. Five years ago Kimberly’s family noticed a significant mass in her groin and took her to the local health center where they were told nothing could be done. Since the family lives near the border with Mexico, in desperation they took Kimberly to a private Mexican hospital where they learned that surgery was possible but at prohibitive cost. The family survives only by selling potatoes and a few pigs.
Two months ago Kimberly’s parents heard that a Partner for Surgery medical mission would soon be in their village. With renewed hope, they got in line to see the team where one of our dedicated volunteer doctors, Dr. Brigid Glackin from the University of Illinois, evaluated Kimberly. She was recommended for surgery and put on the schedule for our March surgical team. We escorted Kimberly and one of her parents to the Guatemala City hospital, Fundacion Pediatrica, where Dr. Ed Doolin had again brought his team from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Kimberly’s surgery was successful and the next day I visited her with other Partner for Surgery staff. She had a beautiful smile and looked like she had just won the lottery. I asked “Why the big smile?” and she answered - “I am smiling because today I feel like new; I feel I can continue to have fun and be a kid. I will be able to play, run and walk with my two brothers. I missed that.”
We often forget to enjoy life and, at her young age, Kimberly reminded us to do so. Partner for Surgery will continue to work hard to help more children to enjoy life and being kids.
Kimberly’s story is one of hundreds that can be told because donors like you have helped fund our GlobalGiving Project. Please continue supporting this project so that Partner for Surgery can continue serving those in Guatemala who have no other options but the care we make possible.
Since our last report 172 patients have surgery and 538 individuals have been evaluated in rural communities by Partner for Surgery. If you would like to volunteer for a rural medical mission, please check our website for details. Medical and non-medical volunteers are needed.
Dulce was born February 10, 2015. Dulce's parents Brenda and Walter immediately gave thanks to God for the birth of their daughter, but were shocked and frightened when they learned of her cleft lip and palate. They asked in despair, why, God? How will she nurse? What kind of a life will she lead with this shame? We have no money to help our daughter - what will we do?
After hearing about Partner for Surgery’s work helping poor villagers like themselves, Dulce’s parents brought her to be seen by one of our volunteer medical teams. Brenda and Walter learned about Partner for Surgery’s Nutrition Project to deliver lifesaving nourishment to cleft infants, and our volunteer surgical teams to repair the birth defects. They knew they were truly blessed when they learned that the expenses to correct Dulce’s cleft lip and palate would be covered by donations from our generous supporters.
A Partner for Surgery health promoter traveled to her family home and evaluated Dulce’s progress monthly. The little girl thrived in the Nutrition Program and grew quickly. She received her first successful surgery for cleft lip in July 2015, and received her second successful surgery for cleft palate four short months later in November.
Brenda and Walter are so grateful to God for the miracle Partner for Surgery brought to their family. Following Dulce’s second surgery in November, here is what they had to say: "Thank you Partner for Surgery! We know God will pour out many blessings upon you this Christmas, and wish you prosperity for the coming year so you can continue your blessed work."
As she approaches her second birtnday, Dulce is walking and smiling. She is beginning to speak normally. Thank you for your gifts that allow us to change the lives of little ones like Dulce and her family.