Some kids come in to the MPSC and they immediately catch your eye. That’s saying something because on the first day in the clinic there are people everywhere. Chairs lined down both sides of the hallway with kids sitting in their parent’s laps. Other families are waiting in the courtyard. Then there are the nurses and volunteers who are moving between rooms helping out where they are needed. But amidst all that movement, you find yourself stopping and smiling at a specific baby. Something about their face, the way they are bouncing in their mother’s lap, captures your attention. If you are lucky enough to speak Spanish, you can stop and chat. Or if you are like me, ask for an interpreter. Today I’d like to tell you about some of these kids who have captured our hearts this week.
Oneysi – 9yrs old
The first things you notice about Oneysi are her curly hair and her shy smile. It’s not until after you’ve stopped to blow bubbles and make a balloon animal with her that you notice her twisted foot which is the result of a broken leg that wasn’t corrected. She is one of the older patients on this trip at 9yrs old. The Austin Smiles team will operate on her palate and tongue (another surgery is scheduled at the center in November to fix her foot). Oneysi came to the MPSC with Kevin, a worker at the children’s home where she lives. Kids receive schooling from kindergarten all the way through college at the home but are still very reliant on missions like Austin Smiles to meet their medical needs.
Oneysi’s surgery was scheduled for first thing Monday morning. She came into Triage and immediately started playing with the light-up magic wand while nurse Mary took her vitals and covered her with stickers. Carolina made balloon animals and entertained her with stories until she went up for surgery. We were all waiting for her when she was released to post-op. Wednesday morning after the doctors did their rounds we loaded her up with stickers and balloon animals before waving goodbye!
Thomas – 22 months
On Day 1, up and down the hall, everyone couldn’t help but look at this cutie. He was smiling his toothy smile and babbling away while he played with a miniature soccer ball. When it was his turn for triage evaluation, Dr. Crawford immediately decided that she wanted to do his operation. When he went up for surgery we crowded around to send him off. And when Dr. Crawford brought him down post operation, all of our eyes watered a little bit as tears dripped down his mother’s face as her baby was returned to her arms and she saw his fixed lip for the first time.
Abner – 18 years (just had a birthday in October!)
We first spotted Abner wearing his blue volunteer vest on Monday, where he was writing patient names on the chalkboard outside the nurse’s station. He is here as a volunteer but also as a former patient. Two years ago he came to MPSC to be evaluated. At the time he had an obturator (prosthesis similar to a dental retainer that covers holes in the palate) but they decided against surgery and recommend he get braces which would help the hole to close. Dr. Wainwright was able to perform rhinoplasty to reshape the nose though.
Because of this experience Abner started volunteering at MPSC when medical missions came through. In a very happy coincidence, Abner was volunteering at MPSC this week when Austin Smiles showed up with Dr. Wainwright in tow! Abner met Dr. Wainwright on Sunday and through the help of an interpreter was able to schedule a time for him to observe one of Dr. Wainwright’s surgeries on Wednesday.
Today is our second to last day of surgeries as our week in Guatemala City winds down. Come back tomorrow for the final installment.