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On Saturday Morning 36 Lives Changed Forever

Special Guest Blogger: Jacquelin Sandoval When 36 professionals from across the United States join forces with a common desire to help mankind, a team is instantly created. The egos are checked-in at the door and the all-for-one spirit is unleashed. It is incredible to see how people of so many different walks of life can come together, bond and be extraordinary. Extraordinary is the only way to describe people who want to have societal impact. On this mission approximately 50 successful surgeries were completed in 4 days. A team of 36 people have changed the lives of 50 families in Guatemala. The only way to do this is to be part of something greater than yourself — which is a team. Each member of the Austin Smiles Guatemala mission knew that they couldn’t do it alone but together they could produce outstanding results, which they did! Not one surgery had complications and all the children have either gone home or...

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What the Heck is an Obturator?

Dentist Tom Sentz and assistant Priyanka Agrawal had a busy few days attending to many of the patients with cleft palates.  They were asked to see patients who had failed palate repairs, those who still had a hole in their palate resulting in problems eating.  Tom and Priyanka made impressions of the patients’ mouths, then used the impression as a mold to fabricate a model of the mouth with dental stone (plaster).  They then used a plastic substance to form an obturator on the model.  After the substance dried, the obturator is trimmed and smoothed then fit into the patient’s mouth.  The main purpose of an obturator is to keep food out of the nose while eating.  Our dental team was so efficient that the patients who needed them were able to get their obturators before they left the hospital.

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The last case

Monday was a lon-n-n-ng day.  Because it was Monday and the first day of a mission in a new hospital, because the unexpected always pops up in these endeavors, whatever. At the end of the day, 14 children were seen in the OR for complicated, time-consuming procedures and given excellent pre- and post-surgical care. The staff had to endure long hours on their feet as well as delayed meals & bedtime. The patients and families however, waited not knowing exactly why it was taking so long, and not knowing exactly what would happen when their turn came around.  For the most part they waited stoically without uttering a single “What’s taking so long?? I’ve been waiting here for over 8 hours!” Our staff returned to the hotel in staggered groups, some about 9:00, some around 10:30, others not until 1:00 a.m.  I heard Leilani stayed even later. And I never heard a discouraging word from any of them.  They know...

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The Dr.Carlos Canseco Gonzales Foundation

The Dr.Carlos Canseco Gonzales Foundation has for several years played a key role in the success of Austin Smiles trips to Mexico.  Members of this small group (numbering only about eight) manage to perform mighty deeds. They provide meals and shelter for all the patients and their families. This year they paid for bus transportation for children who were coming from villages in the mountains and for nursing staff to cover the evenings when Austin Smiles medical staff return to the hotel to rest. These Foundation members quietly work behind the scenes to do things for us before we know we need them. They named their organization after Dr. Gonzales because he was a world renowned Mexican physician and the first Mexican president of Rotary International.  He was a key figure in the international campaign to eradicate polio. .

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A Family Tradition

Long-time mission volunteer Joe Gomez has been providing his wisdom and guidance on “39 or 40” Austin Smiles trips. Joe translates, is an expert in logistics, and intuitively attends to the many details needed to make the mission run smoothly. We were all thrilled that Joe’s son, Anthony, was able to come on this mission, a great tribute to his father who has given so much to Austin Smiles.

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