Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Guatemala City Mission – Day 2

Today is the first surgery day! We have 13 surgeries scheduled today and Triage is the place to be first thing in the morning. The patients are already at MPSC, prepped and waiting with their families in the post-op rooms. Anthony leaves the Triage room to grab our first three patients. As soon as they walk through the door, everyone scrambles in to action. Two nurses and two doctors start taking pre-op vitals for each child. One volunteer is taking before photos to attach to the child’s medical file which will be handed over to the surgeons. Another volunteer is stationed at a computer in the corner, entering the patient information into the Austin Smiles database. A handful of other volunteers are in the room and using puppets, balloon animals, stickers, and elmo videos to distract the crying babies who have been NPO (no food or drink orally since midnight) on doctor’s orders.

Triage pre op

Mary taking vitals with Mary Jane and Dr. Porter filling out paperwork.

Triage admin

Madolyn confirming that the child’s photo and paperwork are ready to go.

Through all of this, parents are still with the child, patiently waiting and following instructions. Once they leave the triage room, they enter the sterile zone. The parent puts on a gown, shoe covers, and a hair net while we hold and/or entertain the child. Then we hand the child across the gray tape on the floor, separating the sterile from the non sterile environment. From there, they say their goodbyes and the child goes in the elevator with nurses to the OR upstairs. Our lovely Translator Carolina has been hanging out, keeping them company while they wait for surgery to end.

Carolina pre op

Carolina holding a child while the mother is getting scrubs on the other side of the gray line (the sterilized area).

Pre op

Baby and mom reunited on the other side of the gray line, right before the child is taken to the OR.

I made my way upstairs and scrubbed in to catch the rest of the action. Once upstairs, the child is taken to one of the 3 operating rooms and everyone gets down to business. The anesthesia teams are in the room along with the nurses and doctors. At times, these operating rooms feel crowded. After surgery is finished, the child is brought to the PACU room and the nurses start taking vitals. If all goes well, they are only there for 15-20 minutes before they head back down the elevator to be reunited with their families. You can find a few non-medical volunteers and doctors who aren’t operating hanging around the OR and PACU areas, looking on and waiting to offer a helping hand.

OR 1

Nurse Mo, Dr. Turner, and Dr. Crawford performing their second surgery of the day in OR 1.

OR 2

Nurse Heather, Nurse Ann, Nurse Becky, and Dr. Barnes watching as a patient is waking up after surgery in OR 3.

PACU recovery

Sisters Nurse Jeanne and Nurse Ann in the PACU taking vitals and making sure the child is ready to go to post-op. Deborah in the foreground is selecting socks to keep the little feet warm since it is chilly up there.

Post op

Oneysi being transferred from the PACU team to the post-op team. She will spend the night at the MPSC and be checked out by the doctors in the morning. *More info about Oneysi’s amazing story later this week!

Most of today’s surgeries were for cleft lips and cleft palates, along with a few bilateral myringotomies (aka, ear tubes). As we wind down the day, the team in Triage begins to pick up a bit as they are handling post-op. Everyone is a little tired but very happy with how the day has gone. Especially since we have a birthday today! A chocolate cake was procured for the birthday girl Michele and we all gathered around to sing happy birthday. A great end to Day 1!

Birthday cake

Michele blowing out her candles! Happy Birthday!

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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