Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Day in the Operating Room

Woah. Saturday I woke up planning to visit a nice lady, with whom I have previously emailed a few times.

What ended up happening was an entirely different thing altogether!
Let's back up.

There is an organization called LEAP based in Dallas. They bring surgical mission teams to eight countries, including Haiti. Their founder, Dr. Craig Hobar, came to Haiti on the fourth day after the earthquake, and planned a trip this week to do operations at Hopital Espoir, a hospital I have visited several times before which is about a mile from our home in Port-au-Prince.

Strangely, Ben and I have personal connections to at least four of the 23 team members who planned to come to Haiti with LEAP, such as my having gone to Baylor with one of the LEAP staff members' daughters. Quite a few of the LEAP team members had heard about our blog and some had read it. I had read a long article about Dr. Hobar's work in Haiti in the Dallas Morning News. I actually met Dr. Hobar when I was in high school. All this to say, lots of "small world" moments.

I have been emailing with Debbie, a nurse and LEAP volunteer, for awhile, and she asked for my help getting some pre-operative and post-operative instruction papers translated into Kreyol. I had my students work on the translations and got them checked by Miquette, my favorite Haitian nurse. Debbie, the kindest woman alive, invited me to drop by the hospital while her team was there operating, and even offered to bring me a jar of my very favorite Dallas food: El Fenix salsa.

So Ben and I dropped by Espoir today, hoping to hug Debbie, wish the team well, and, as an added bonus, eat salsa for dinner tonight.

Little did I know.

What actually happened was I spent the day in the operating room!

There were three groups of specialists with LEAP: plastic surgery (that's Dr. Hobar's specialty- lots of cleft lips and cleft palattes), urology, and ENT.

I watched three procedures. The first was Dr. Hobar fixing a cleft palatte on a 10-month-old little girl.
The second procedure I watched was Dr. Hobar fixing a cleft lip. That was really incredible because you can see the external transformation of the face. A 14-month-old girl came in with a deformed mouth and nose, and came out with a beautiful smile and unimpeded nasal function.

The third procedure... wow. On this team were were two surgeons from Children's Medical Center in Dallas who specialize in pediatric urology.

A 12-year-old girl who lives in an orphanage came in for evaluation. As far as the surgeons can tell without access to genetic testing here in Haiti, she has a rare condition where she is genetically XY and male, but developed external female genitalia.

She has lived as a girl because from the outside she is one, but now with the onset of puberty things are going awry and part of her vagina is actually beginning to grow into a penis.

I know.

She came for a removal of the penis, but then when she arrived at the hospital she became scared. She consented only to having an examination under anesthesia, so the pediatric urologists took measurements and photographs to plan for a future surgery, if she changes her mind. They had both actually seen this condition before and planned to try to send "before and after" pictures to her to see the possible results she could expect. They hope to come back in November.

Like I said. Wow.

Wow! I can't believe I got to see this.

Go check out the amazing surgical mission teams from the LEAP Foundation. I am so glad people give money to organizations like this one, because for three days they did nothing but deliver free surgeries to Haiti's poorest. Praise God for your work.


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