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Ordinary People

“I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people                                 living ordinary lives.”                                                                                                                     ~Tracy Chapman I have walked up and down the long hallway of the hospital perhaps more than a hundred times each day this week. This is the hallway where all of our families wait before, during, and after surgery of their child. Some families appear anxious, others more stoic, but the families look at each and every Austin Smiles team member with trust, respect, and gratitude. They are as thankful to me...

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The Celebration of Life Tour

“Make the best of every day and appreciate every day you have”                       ~Linda Morrow Austin Smiles – The Austin Plastic Surgery Foundation was officially formed in 1987. That year, Linda Morrow was working in the Main Operating Room at St. David’s Hospital where she assisted on many of the plastic surgery cases for many of the Founders. At the time, she was a single mom and unable to join a mission trip. “One day…” she thought. Life got in the way, but finally in 2010 she had her first opportunity to assist Dr. Turner in Veracruz. She was so touched by the needs that she cried every day – crying when a child was reunited with his parents, and crying when the parents of little girl, who hid her hands out of shame, were told there was no surgery the doctors could provide for her hands, which had no bones....

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Pixie Dust

“All you need is faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust!” ~ Peter Pan The need is great here in El Salvador, but there are only so many patients the Austin Smiles surgeons can squeeze into the four very long days of surgery this week. Most of the spots are allocated on Sunday to the families who are fortunate enough to both know that the Mission Team is coming and have the ability to get to the hospital that day.   As the week continues, word spreads and more parents arrive hoping a child can be evaluated and assisted. Amazingly, no patient is ever simply turned away. Each patient is evaluated and some kind of guidance, support or intervention is provided by the team of specialists including surgeons, a dentist, and a speech pathologist. Tiny baby Katherine is a patient who arrived early Monday morning with her mother and father, who hoped that Austin Smiles could repair her...

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Isaiah

When Isaiah was born 4 months ago with a severe cleft lip, the staff in the maternity ward informed his mother, Maria, that Austin Smiles might be able to help him during the scheduled trip to El Salvador in June. She had hope. Maria and her baby Isaiah live more than hour away from the military hospital in San Salvador.   She decided it was important for her to bring him to have surgery  – “I want him to be like all the other kids.”  Maria’s sister accompanied them to San Salvador.  She shared, “Others in the community are not necessarily supportive of her – but I see the love that she has for him… I love her and want to be here to support her in her time of need.” Maria and Isaiah arrive for pre-op triage at 6 a.m. with the 10 other patients for the day. Triage feels a bit like “organized chaos” but quickly the medical volunteers...

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“He’s smarter than I thought!” ~ Claire Fason

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin Volunteering is often a transformative experience – we gain as much if not more than we give. This Austin Smiles trip no doubt will be a particularly transformative experience for the five of us who have been fortunate to include our own teenagers in this journey as fellow team members. To begin the week, I have asked each parent and child to share their hopes and expectations for the experience and look forward to sharing each pairs’ reflection late this week. Holly Clause & Anton Stoebner (Anesthesiologist & All-Around Volunteer) Holly first served Austin Smiles as a Resident many years ago, and now returns as an integral part of the Medical Team. As Anton enters high school, Holly hopes this trip helps Anton understand that there are many people less fortunate than he is and that “even the smallest action as...

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