LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- – – Some 40 indigent children with cleft lip and palate from Pangasinan can now smile with confidence after getting free operation from a team of expert plastic surgeons, anaesthesiologists and nurses from the Helping Children Smile (HCS) Inc., an Australia-based voluntary organization.
In partnership with the Pangasinan provincial government, the 13-man team composed of Dr. Nitin Sharma, Dr. Shiby Ninan, (plastic surgeons) ; Dr. Damian Castrnelli , Dr. Kushlani Stevenson, (anaesthesiologists); and registered nurses Tracey Madden, Ashleigh McIntosh, Frank Miki, Malika Burke, Erin McIntosh, Ruth Goodchild, Nicole Johnson, Elizabeth Ingham, David Lovett, performed surgery starting on February 5 until February 15 at the Urdaneta District Hospital.
Dubbed ‘Operation Balik Ngiti,’ the surgical mission is inclusive of pre-operative assessment, preparation and intra-operative care as well as post-operative care to include wound management and suture removal.
Erin McIntosh, the team leader, said that their organization have conducted a total of 20 missions in the Philippines to include their four missions in Pangasinan.
As revealed by McIntosh, the high incidence of cleft lip and palate in the country made them decide to conduct free operations on a yearly basis.
For their mission, the visiting team brought electronic equipment, suction units, monitors, defibrillator and HB machine.
However, the province of Pangasinan, as program partner, provided the operation and recovery rooms and ward for pre and post operation patients and other support facilities.
The HCSI has already benefited about 1,100 indigent patients since its first mission in the country in 1996.
Duration of the operation is about an hour for cleft lip and two hours for the palate. Patients have either treated with one operation or both.
The team is set to hold a courtesy call with Governor Amado I. Espino III on February 13 before ending their mission on February 15. (Ruby R. Bernardino// Photos by: Bob Sison)