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Must be love!

It is easy to fall in love with the babies and children that are being treated by the Austin Smiles team. Here are a few that we are loving this week. Ximena is 12 months old and charming is the only word to describe her. Maritsa was dressed in a precious denim dress and a beautiful smile.       Mauricio enjoyed the stuffed animal provided by the many supporters of Austin Smiles – including Maily Wilson’s Brownie troop in Austin TX!     Mateo was here last year for his first surgery.  This year he played with a balloon while waiting, and received a follow up operation yesterday.   Smiles volunteers gave out bubbles and coloring books as well to keep the children busy.     Three-month-old Taylor quickly became a bright-eyed favorite.   His parents Elizabeth and Phillipe have used a special bottle with a different nipple to enable him to take a bottle with his cleft lip.        

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San Salvador, We Have a Problem

The power went out in the hospital on Monday, producing lots of anxiety for the medical team and for the patients’ parents.   Fortunately it came back on almost immediately. Today the power went out again about 10:30 am, but this time the hospital had to rely on generator power.  The power was out in the entire neighborhood.  Things went from bad to worse when we were informed that the generator was overheating and we could lose all power within a couple of hours.  We lost access to water later in the morning because it is pumped with electricity and power had to be conserved to maintain critical resources. Surgeries in progress were completed without problems, but no new cases were started because of the uncertainty.  We waited until 2:00 pm, but permanent power had not been restored.  We decided at that point to leave the hospital.  As the bus was departing at 3:30 we got word that the power had been restored. ...

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Sister Act

Austin Smiles volunteers call ourselves a family, but in many cases that is literally true.  Husbands and wives regularly serve together, and volunteers frequently bring a child, niece, or nephew along.  On this trip we have two sets of sisters. In a family of 5 children, the 3 girls all became nurses later in life.  Ann Perry of Austin has been on 3 previous Smiles trips, and she convinced her sisters Jeanne King from Denver and Elaine Cody from Phoenix to come along this year.  It is a rare opportunity for them to get to spend a week together, so they are enjoying the chance to talk like sisters do, and share their nursing talents with the children of El Salvador. Twins Jennifer and Kim Zachary grew up together in Taylor, Texas.  They refused to continue dressing alike at age 6, but did everything else together.  They attended nursing school at the University of Texas, and today practice together at Dell...

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We are speechless, but the patients are not!

Alisa Baron is a speech pathologist who is trained in bilingual therapy. She speaks Spanish beautifully.  On Smiles trips, she works with children and their parents at numerous points in the process. At triage, she examines children for velo-pharyngeal insufficiency, a dysfunction of the soft palate, which causes speech to be so nasal that a patient is difficult to understand. Surgery can make a significant improvement in this condition. During surgery, she advises parents in the waiting room on feeding, language, and speech development. She distributes materials they can take home as a reference when they are working to develop their children’s speech after surgery. Post-op, she evaluates the children and recommends local therapists. She also works with the children and gives families exercises and intervention strategies to use when they get home. Alisa’s talents are amazing gifts to the families of El Salvador!  

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Dr. Harshbarger’s Forte – Le Fort Facial Reconstruction

About 2 months ago Mission Director Leilani Briseno and Dr. Harshbarger traveled to El Salvador to screen potential patients for facial reconstruction.  Impressions were made of patients’ teeth to anticipate jaw realignment surgery.  A Salvadoran orthodontist referred the patients, and he will do follow up care after we leave.  His care makes it possible for us to do the procedure during the short time we are here.    Carlos had a cleft palate and recessed upper jaw that affected not only his appearance, but also his speech and his ability to eat.  Doctors Harshbarger and Ong fractured his upper jaw, filled in gaps in his facial bones with artificial bone material, and repositioned the upper jaw to match up with the lower jaw.  Carlos’ jaws will be wired together for 6-8 weeks until healed  

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