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Miranda

Our Austin Smiles poster child for Veracruz 2014 trip O

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Safe Transport

A group as large as ours (48 volunteers!) can present transportation nightmares, especially since the hospital was a considerable distance from the hotel. But each morning we were able to board clean new buses in 2 shifts, ignore traffic and enjoy the scenery on the way to work. We noticed after a few days that our buses were being followed by a jeep full of armed military men.  Veracruz is home to a Navy base and we   were provided with their services daily – we rode in their big gray Navy bus and were escorted by a jeep full of Marines.  Always vigilant, always friendly, our security guards not only eased any worries we may have had about safety, they also proved to be useful in other ways.  Take Wednesday morning February 12, when anesthesiologist Paula Rushing had the misfortune to rush out the front door one second late, only to see the bus pull away from the hotel.  She...

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Scenes from the surgical suite

For those who don’t normally work in an operating room, what happens there can appear like a well-choreographed dance; a group of focused and well-trained professionals performing their jobs in synergy (Synergy:  joint action of participants, that when working together increase each other’s effectiveness).  Each participant may view his job as routine, but to the observer, the combined effect is amazing, and the results miraculous.

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A Father’s Love

Ariceli is an 11 month old born with a bilateral cleft lip resulting in a noticeable defect on an otherwise pretty face.  She travelled to Veracruz with her father, a single parent, who constantly carried her and fretted whenever she was removed from his arms. Ariceli had her surgery on Wednesday and while she was in the OR her Dad was so anxious he cried.  When she was returned to him after surgery, he cried again with relief. Speech therapist Jissel went to visit the pair in the post-op area later in the day and noticed that Dad was holding Ariceli close and weeping.  Jissel reassured him that although Ariceli might be having a little pain now, she would quickly feel fine and heal rapidly.  He told her “No, I’m just so happy because now she looks like her twin sister”. All smiles on Thursday as Ariceli and dad prepare to leave for home.

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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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