Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

El Salvador 2017, First Surgery Day

First Surgery Day – February 20, 2017

Elvis & Mirna – By Kristen Brown; photos by Sarah Carney

San Salvador– Day 2 of our mission trip began with triage for the 11 patients scheduled for operations.  Dr. Quint Barnes and Nurse Kim Moreno evaluated each patient, took their vitals, and checked to make sure they had neither eaten nor drunk anything past midnight.  Once checked in and photographed by Junior League volunteers Michelle Hagans and Sarah Carney, patients put on green hospital gowns and begin the very long day of waiting for their craniofacial or cleft lip/palate repair surgery.

Today we highlight the day’s two youngest patients: Elvis, age one year and five months, and Mirna, age one year and two months.  We remembered their beautiful faces well from the selection process on Sunday and followed them throughout the day of their surgeries.

Elvis and his mom traveled from the Santa Ana region of El Salvador, about 1.5 hours by bus, to Hospital Militar for the Sunday screening.  Mom first heard about Austin Smiles coming to Hospital Militar just two weeks prior via a television announcement.  She said it was “miraculous” that Elvis was selected after just one day of screening and that his surgery would be performed the next day.  Elvis had already been turned away twice from another Salvadoran entity that provides cleft surgery at no cost to patients in need, as resources are so limited here.

After a few hours of waiting, Elvis is called back for surgery while mom endures many more hours of waiting for news on his results.

Mirna came six hours by bus from the Metapán region of El Salvador.  One of seven siblings and raised by her grandmother who brought her on Sunday, Mirna arrived hoping to have her first cleft lip and palate surgery with Austin Smiles.  Mirna’s grandmother also first heard about the opportunity for surgery via an announcement on television.  She had also tried to have surgery for Mirna locally but Mirna was turned away three times.

Mirna’s grandmother emotionally conveyed her gratitude for Austin Smiles, saying our organization is “beautiful and kind,” and that it is a wonderful what Austin Smiles offers people who otherwise would not be able to pay.  Mirna is doing great and is also set for release Tuesday, February 21st, right on schedule.

1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

$250 covers the cost of one life-changing surgery

150 volunteers annually will change a child’s life forever

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