Menu

Images of our week

As we say adios to El Salvador, until the next time, here are a few memories of our week. When things get crazy – sometimes you just have to laugh about it!    Appearances can be deceiving… View from the city with Boquerón Volcano in the background left      Caring is why we are here.  Teamwork is why we are good at it.    This patient’s mother was emotional as she thanked Dr. Ong for what he did for her son.  And yes, all the nurses around the bed are crying. The children of El Salvador and the volunteers from Austin Smiles thank you for your support of this important work.  There is more to be done and we will be back.  

Read More

Flashback Friday

When Austin Smiles first began their mission trips to El Salvador, there were two men who were instrumental in our success; one was Julio Gonzales (a local businessman) and the other was Dr. Roberto Pineta (a local orthodontist).  Both men wanted to help their fellow countrymen and provide benevolent services to their people. Austin Smiles has been fortunate to continue this relationship with both these men for over 25 years! Fred Wilder, Rick Parker, Bill Davis, Roberto Pineda, and Julio Gonzales are pictured below in 1995.   Fred, Rick and Bill are three of the twelve founding plastic surgeons of Austin Smiles. Every year, Dr. Pineda works side by side with us to provide excellent health care to the children of El Salvador. To this day, Dr. Pineda continues to provide free orthodontic services to ALL the Austin Smiles patients.  In addition, we provide surgical services to many of his patients that otherwise would not receive the necessary surgery.  This year was...

Read More

Joseph

Ten-month-old Joseph, his mother and his two-week-old sister, traveled with a relative for four hours on a bus to reach the hospital in San Salvador.  There was room in the schedule to add him on, so he was to be operated on that day.  He was animated and happy on Wednesday morning while waiting to be seen.  Later, he napped on the floor in the hallway waiting for surgery. The procedure went well, and he was in and out of the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) quickly.   The PACU team took him across a breezeway and up the elevator to the 5th floor for post-op care with nurse Elizabeth Stephens and her team of local nurses and Smiles volunteers. The local nurses care for the patients overnight, but each day Elizabeth is on the 6 am bus to make rounds with the doctors and prepare the patients to be released.  She is on the last bus home in the evening, not leaving until she...

Read More

Local Hero

This is the first Austin Smiles trip for Anesthesiologist Dr. Mary Zavala, but it is not her first trip to El Salvador.  She was born here, named Acsa Merari Zavala Flores. She is from San Miguel region, on the edge of lake Olomega by the volcano.  Her parents went to the US with a “coyote” smuggler when she was 5.  She lived with her cousins for 8 months while waiting to join her parents. She remembers hiding out during the war.  She felt very protected by her family during the bombing raid; they were kept close and told stories to keep them calm.  She sustained a neck injury on the playground when another child threw a piece of glass from debris left from an explosion. Mary and her brother Ever were brought to the US with some American friends of her parents.   The Americans drove across the border and passed the children off as their own.  Mary was so talkative that they filled her mouth with lifesavers so...

Read More

The Teeth Complete the Smile

Our dentist, Dr. Tom Sentz, noticed that our bus driver Christian Roque was missing a tooth.  Tom made him a false tooth (called a “flipper”) to fill in that spot!      Tom has been coming on trips with Austin Smiles, annually or more often, since the mid-90s, so he has seen and done a lot.  He consults with patients about any dental issues or questions they may have, which is very common with cleft lips and palates.    He makes obturators for patients with fistulas (see an earlier post – “What the heck is an obturator?”).  He pulls teeth, which are frequently improperly growing on cleft lip and palate patients.  He doesn’t like to sit around, so he also helps wash surgical instruments in his spare time!       We are grateful to have the loyal and longstanding support, and good company, of Dr. Sentz.

Read More