Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate

by Partner for Surgery
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery for Guatemalans with Cleft Lip and Palate
Dr. Coleman with Patient_January 2020
Dr. Coleman with Patient_January 2020

When Guatemala halted all flights from the United States and Canada, Partner for Surgery had to suspend surgical missions for the foreseeable future. In order to ensure the health and well being of the children and families who were waiting for their surgeries, Partner for Surgery's health promoters and staff have stepped up to make sure the children in the Infant Nutrition Program remain healthy as they wait. More than 150 children are depending on your support. Please continue your donations.

Fast Fact: To date in 2020, two rural medical mission teams have identified 471 patients needing surgery and four surgical teams have carried out 219 procedures. 

Partner for Surgery: What a Difference Four Volunteers Can Make in the Lives of 285 Individuals: At the core of Partner for Surgery's efforts are the rural medical missions and our local Health Promoters. During the last week of January, four medical volunteers -- Dr. Neal Shealy, Dr. Lawrence "Buddy" Coleman, and nurses Sharon Shealy and Dianne Perry -- recommended a record 285 patients for surgery. The Shealys and Dr. Coleman, all from South Carolina, have volunteered with PfS for over 15 years and this year were joined by Ms. Peggy, from Victoria, Canada. 

Your donations are greatly appreciated to help us to continue to support those in Guatemala who depend on us. 

For photos and news, please visit our website www.partnerforsurgery.org, "Like" us on Facebook (facebook.com/partnerforsurgery/) and on Instagram at @pfsguatemala.

Thank you!

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Health Promoter, Child and Mother
Health Promoter, Child and Mother

In order to identify babies born with cleft lip and palate and quickly provide nutritional support to the baby and education for the family, Partner for Surgery (PfS) has a network of Health Promoters who are actively engaged in the various rural communities we serve in Guatemala.

Health Promoters help publicize triage and surgical missions and locate patients in need of life changing surgery. 

They monitor babies in the Cleft Infant Nutrition Program as well as escort patients to the hospital and stay with them until they are ready to go home.

If problems develop, patients know they can count on Health Promoters for reassurance and assistance.

The example of Damien and Zoila

 Abelina was bringing her newborn son Damien home from hospital on a bus when the driver noticed she was distraught. The driver saw that Damien had a cleft lip and palate and contacted Zoila, the local PfS Health Promoter.

Zoila hurried to Abelina's home and found the father angrily rejecting his son and telling Abelina "Stop feeding him and let him die!"

Zoila convinced both parents to enroll Damien in PfS's in-home Cleft Infant Nutrition Program and through her frequent visits, Damien's health was maintained. 

Zoila then arranged for Abelina and Damien to attend PfS's September rural triage mission -- where he was seen by Dr. Lawrence Coleman, a pediatrician from South Carolina and a Board Member of PfS. Dr. Coleman confirmed that Damien was healthy enough for surgery and, with Zoila's assistance, Damien was seen by the Smiles for Guatemala surgical team in November. He received his cleft repair on November 6th and will remain in the Nutrition program until next year, when he will return for cleft palate surgery. 

Damien is now six months old and an accepted member of his family. 

Your donations make it possible for us to restore dignity and health to people like Demian. Thank you for supporting our work! 

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Julio Sel, health promoter, shares information
Julio Sel, health promoter, shares information

Ana, born with a cleft lip and palate, was six months old in May. She is the fifth child of a day laborer earning two dollars a day to support his entire family, which lives outside the village of Chisec in a rented house that does not have electricity or water. Ana's two older brothers attend school, which further stretches the family finances. They are the kind of typical rural family we at Partner for Surgery assist with surgical care. 

In January 2019, Ana was brought to a PfS medical mission in Chisec and admitted to our in-home Cleft Infant Nutrition Program. Since then, our health promoter for the area, Julio Sel, has visited monthly to provide Ana formula, monitor her health, and offer education on maintaining good health for the whole family. Fortunately, Ana qualified in July for the first of the two corrective surgeries she will need. 

We are confident that Ana will be one of the 1,000 patients that we expect to receive a surgical procedure this year from one of the 17 teams we support with patients. This is all made possible by our volunteers and donors, and we thank you again for your support. 

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Tucuru, Guatemala, near where Susana lives
Tucuru, Guatemala, near where Susana lives

When a child is born in the United States with a cleft lip their lip is almost always repaired before their first birthday. In countries such as Guatemala this is rarely the case. Almost all of our patients are from remote rural areas far from the big city or even a paved road. Finding them and persuading them to leave the security of home is difficult at best. Don Heebner, one of our volunteers and Board member has photographed over one hundred children many of whom are infants. So he was surprised when he saw Susana for the first time. Susana was holding a towel over her face and Don had to check her folder to see why she was a patient in this surgical mission, which was focused on children. When she pulled the towel away it was clear why. How was it possible that she had not been repaired in 18 years?

Susana was born the youngest of three children, and her mother was not very involved with her children. Her father was even less involved. When it looked like Susana’s mother and father would abandon her, Susana’s grandfather and grandmother stepped forward and said they would raise Susana. Susana had a loving home with her grandparents, but when she started school the taunting and bullying began. Susana would come home in tears from school every day until finally in the third grade her grandparents let her drop out of school. She was homebound until her grandparents heard of a Guatemalan charity called Partner for Surgery that matched children with surgical needs with incoming surgical teams from the United States and Canada who volunteered their skills for free, and would repair Susana for free.

When our team saw Susana there was no way we were going to let her go home without our best effort to make her look like the pretty girl she was meant to be. She was presented with a small mirror after surgery which she used to look at herself for ten minutes at a time. We asked if she wanted her towel back, and she said no, “I do not need it any more“.

Cleft lip patients are held overnight and released the next day. When Don heard Susana was ready to go home he grabbed her camera and met her as she walked out of the hospital, and stepped into the sunlight on a bright sunny afternoon and appeared as a normal 18 year old girl for the first time in her life.

Eighteen years is a long time to wait , but thanks to you and to two amazing charities Partner for Surgery, and Smiles for Guatemala, Susana no longer has to wait in her grandparents house.

Besides Susana, Partner for Surgery and our many teams of volunteers have completed 246 surgeries in the first quarter of 2019 and examined 480 patients.

You are making a difference. Rural Guatemalan families are some of the most impoverished in Central America and your help improves more than their health. Children are better able to go to school, adults can work to support their families and contribute to the local economy. The whole community is uplifted.

Thank you. We could not have achieved these results without you.

Susana and her grandfather
Susana and her grandfather
Susana before surgery
Susana before surgery
Susana after surgery
Susana after surgery
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The work Partner for Surgery conducts in Guatemala is the result of many people's contributions: donors like you, medical and non-medical volunteers, our local staff and Health Promoters, and the communities where we work. 

In 2018, more than 300 children born with a cleft lip/palate received nutritional and surgical care as part of Partner for Surgery's program. 

With your support, our Health Promoters visited rural communities in Guatemala and quickly identified children born with cleft lip/palate. They placed the children in our nutritional program and started to visit the family to provide support. They gave each mother a breast pump and a bottle designed specially for feeding babies with cleft lip/palate. Mothers also received general education on how to keep their baby healthy until they were ready for surgery. 

Partner for Surgery has the most comprehensive program for babies who are born with cleft lip/palate in the rural communities of Guatemala. Through our immediate attention to nutrition, we are able to ensure the babies can successfully endure surgery as soon as possible. 

While the babies wait for surgery over the first few months of their lives, our Health Promoters will visit their families regularly and monitor the baby's development. Once they have had surgery, we continue to visit them to make sure they are recovering from surgery well.

327 children had cleft lip/palate surgery in 2018 as part of our program. 

Last October, Frank Peterson, founder of Partner for Surgery, and I, visited some of the families of babies who had been in our program. The moms were so happy to show us how well their babies were doing. They walked a long way carrying the children in their arms to let us see them up close. It was a very touching moment for us and a huge boost to our motivation to continue this work.

Thank you for your help! We could not have done it without you. 

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Organization Information

Partner for Surgery

Location: McLean, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @pfsguatemala
Partner for Surgery
Beatriz Coningham
Project Leader:
Beatriz Coningham
McLean, VA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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