June 12, 2017

Surgery, Day Two – Written and Photography by Natalie deLeon

I walked into the hospital and immediately could feel the pressure of change I had felt the day before. I knew today would change my life and I would never see people the same way again. I walked into a mom holding her child tightly, a doctor preparing his equipment, the anesthesiologist preparing her medications, all the documents getting organized, crates emptied, cold water put into ice chests. I knew today would be one of those days where a memory is made that sticks with you for the rest of your life.

We had our first patient – a sweet little one whose face had terror and fear of the unknown, written all over it. All of the patients get a preliminary check-up again before going down to surgery. We poke, put cold things on them, and take them out of their comfort zone – some cry, some laugh. The moms or dads who bring them take it all in with stride, knowing this will be the best thing for their child in the long run.

The mothers hold their babies with such fervor and the moment they let them go for surgery you can see not only the relief, but also the pain of having to see them go. Some stay and watch until their baby is out of view, some stay a moment after with tears in their eyes, and some feel the need to hand over their child and immediately turn and walk away. A raw reaction.

The moment the parents hear their baby has come out of the OR, they pop up with intensity. The hallway to PACU is long with heat rushing at you, dim lighting, and people everywhere. The parents walk it with their head held high and red eyes. I asked a mom “how are you feeling?” she only said one word “nerviosa” (nervous).  The first time a parent sees their baby after surgery, no matter the age, it’s a personal moment. For a split second a mother may not recognize their child or know how everything turned out. Those are the moments we all came for, those moments where the children are out of the anesthesia, all healthy, and within a couple of days able to leave and live long healthy lives.

Today we performed surgeries on 13 patients. Del Waters, a board member and volunteer said to me today, “We are a secular organization doing God’s work!” I could not put it better myself!

If you would like to donate to our Veracruz trip, please donate here. Thank you!