Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stories from Hermosillo

As CSI surgical mission volunteers, we are so fortunate to meet many wonderful children and families. I wish we could share all our stories, but here are just a few.

Oscar -
Imagine the desperation of a mother who hitchhiked with her 1-year-old son from their home three hours away to Hermosillo hoping to receive surgery for a cleft lip. Oscar is one of five children whose family lives on a salary of $50/week. Due to a last-minute family emergency, he and his mother missed the CSI screening day. Frantic, but undeterred, she left home with Oscar in her arms. She had no money, and only some juice, water and a small bag. That night the two of them slept outdoors and started hitchhiking toward Hermosillo the next morning. They were picked up by a kindhearted taxi driver took them as far as the bus station.  From there another taxi driver brought them to the hospital. We were pleased to be able to put Oscar on our surgery schedule.
Oscar after successful cleft lip surgery. Grateful, exhausted mommy.
Iker -
When Iker arrived last year as a 5-month-old, he was severely malnourished due to feeding challenges as a result of his cleft palate. At that time he weighed about 3 pounds, small enough to fit in a shoebox. Too fragile for surgery at that time, his very survival was questioned by medical staff. At screening during the CSI trip last year he was admitted to a local hospital for care. The St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic provided the financial and emotional support as he recovered. He arrived back this year for his CSI screening literally transformed, well nourished and ready for his cleft palate surgery. His mother is so very grateful!
Iker at 5 months of age in 2016. Too fragile for surgery.
Iker, one year later. Ready for cleft palate surgery this week.
Hannah -
Three-year-old Hannah received the best gift ever! Her father promised her that after her cleft lip surgery he would buy her a brand new two-wheel bike. At the end of her bed when she awakened from anesthesia, she found a new pink and purple Peppa Pig bike.  Hannah was out in the hallway riding the bike - which was decked out with shiny tassels and training wheels - three hours later under the very careful supervision of her mother and hospital staff.
Hannah and her bike
We wrapped up the surgeries today with a total of 57 children helped in just three days. The team was able to add three children who were on the "maybe" list for surgery as well.  One of my favorite things I heard this week was from a St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic staff member. She quoted the guardian of a young boy that CSI provided surgery a few years ago. "I gave him a home, St. Andrew’s and Hospital CIMA gave him a life, and CSI gave him a smile."
Happy surgeon, Dan Sampson DDS, MD
The generous and hospitable Hospital CIMA volunteers treated our team to a farewell fiesta last night. We enjoyed fabulous Mexican food fit for royalty, in the most lovely historical home in downtown Hermosillo. The evening was filled with music, karaoke and dancing late into the evening. Early this morning the team completed their final rounds, discharging the last 16 of our darling patients. Needless to say, there were smiles all around. Goodbye Hermosillo, until we see you again.

Thanks to our amazing and talented CSI volunteer team, St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic and Hospital CIMA Hermosillo. Because of great partnerships CSI is able to change many lives, one child at a

Monday, October 17, 2016

First days in Hermosillo

Nineteen CSI surgical, medical and nursing volunteers made their way to Hermosillo, Mexico, this weekend from various locations around the U.S. A few flight delays made connections difficult, but the team was grateful that American Airlines was willing to hold a departure so the CSI volunteers (and their vital equipment) could make it to Hermosillo on time.
St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic in Nogales, Arizona and CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo are important partners for our Mexico surgical missions. The St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic is involved in critical advance preparation for the CSI team, making certain the children are ready for surgery and that consistent follow-up is maintained. Because of CSI's long-term partnership with Hermosillo, we have been able to follow some children over several years, making certain they have the ongoing care and subsequent surgical procedures that are sometimes required in these complex cases.

CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo welcomes the CSI and St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic team with wide open arms each fall. Their staff and volunteers are amazing. Not only are the children and families treated with the utmost care, we are as well. Our welcome included singing, balloons, hugs and even tears of joy.
The team is in the midst of its third day of work already. Our first day on the job was filled with screening 122 children accompanied by very hopeful parents. A team of four specialized ENT, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, pediatricians and pediatric nurses evaluated the children - while the anesthesia team and OR nurses readied the operating rooms for several days of packed surgical schedules ahead. Once all the children had been seen, the surgical schedule for the week could be finalized.
The first day of surgeries was long and productive. Twenty kids had life-changing procedures,  which require a team effort. Tasia, our medical records volunteer, has many responsibilities. She manages medical records, directs traffic, translates, dresses kids for surgery, comforts crying babies and supports anxious parents. (and this was all in her first four hours on the job starting at 6 a.m.)
Let me tell you about baby Manuel. At 15 days of age, his family left him a village hospital. Manuel had been born with a bilateral cleft lip. His parents may not have known that a relatively simple surgery could repair the problem. They may not have had the financial resources to pay for care. They may not have understood that there doesn’t need to be any shame in giving birth to a child with a defect. They may have been ostracized by their community. Manuel is now 6 months old and has been living in an orphanage. He is ready to have surgery to repair the birth defect. The CSI team is thrilled to provide the care he needs to thrive and grow. He is pictured with his caregiver, Carolina, who loves him as her own.
We have two more days of surgery to bring changes to the lives of children in need. More stories to follow.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fall Mission Completed

Our fall Vietnam mission is complete. With the support of our mission partner IPSAC and the Provincial Hospital leadership and surgical, medical and nursing staff, we were able to successfully perform 24 urologic procedures on children in need. In addition to these surgeries, knowledge was transferred at all points in the continuum of care - from the bedside to the conference room. We collaborated to do screenings, provide pre- and post-op care and family education and, of course, hands-on training in the OR. On our last day, we did a workshop on optimizing surgical outcomes with a multidisciplinary approach. It ended with a good discussion illustrating the differences between our healthcare settings and the impact resources have on patients and teams. We were also supported by a very committed and helpful team of interpreters all along the way.
Father Joseph, IPSAC and Minh Hang Hoang, Interpreter
The children and families we encountered this week were absolutely amazing. It was especially touching to see how children and families supported one another, even though they may not have known one another prior to coming to us for surgical care. One father helped a pregnant mother by carrying her child for her. They supported one another with encouraging words and friendly smiles. They worked together like one big family, challenged while being far from home and stressed by the prospect of their children needing surgery, but all on a similar journey.

Even the children offered encouragement to each other. Our last case of the day on Thursday was the special little boy pictured in the photo. Because eating and drinking prior to surgery isn't allowed, the other children waiting for their procedures were hungry and thirsty. He helped to calm and distract them by blowing bubbles, offering them toys and playing with them, all with a huge smile.

After leaving Thanh Hoa, most of the CSI team spent an additional day in Hanoi where we visited Blossom House, a foster home for girls aged 5-18 years run by Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam. HSCV is a non-profit organization founded by Minnesotans Chuck DeVet and his daughter Annetta. The home provides holistic care for girls from families living in extreme poverty. Learn more about HSCV at Our friends at HSCV provided us with critical logistical support and translation services for our medical mission in Thanh Hoa, so we were grateful to be able to, in turn, provide support and information to the girls at Blossom House.

Our team offered a workshop for the girls titled “Take Care of that Temple,” with a focus on positive self-image and self-care. The girls really enjoyed writing positive messages about themselves and their peers. We also discussed and demonstrated the importance of hand hygiene, which was identified as a strong need and was well-received. We hope to continue to partner with HSCV and visit Blossom House on return missions to the region.

Thanks to Dollies Making A Difference, we were able to leave some sweet hand-made dolls with the girls. The girls so appreciated the gifts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Surgeries, Education and Children's New Year Celebration

It has been a very, very busy few days for our Vietnam team and local partners! 51 children were evaluated by our surgical, medical and nursing teams during screening. 25 of those children will have surgery this week. Because of the continuity that we are able to provide with return missions, many of these children are returning for planned surgical follow up.

Today was eventful, and ran smoothly thanks to an incredibly flexible team. Our second CSI urologist, Dr. Alonso Carrasco, arrived this morning. Several surgical cases were completed. The most complicated of the day was a 7 month old infant girl who required a partial kidney removal and surgical repair of the ureter. She came through the procedure like a champ! We are grateful for the many opportunities for education and collaboration.

Tonight we attended a hospital celebration of the mid autumn festival (children's new year).  We were asked to do something special for the hundreds of children and parents who attended.  CSI volunteer, Leon Randall accepted the challenge to lead our team in a performance.  Our rendition of the classic "Heads, shoulders, knees and toes" was a huge hit!  The crowd joined in and we had a blast. What a special time to be here working with our partners for the children of Vietnam.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Screening Day Completed - Surgery Schedule Set for the Week

Screening day is complete and the surgery schedule is full for the week! This is the time to meet prospective children for evaluation, review medical records, and assess the children's current health status and readiness for surgery. As the photos show, the CSI team is partnering with IPSAC and local Vietnamese surgical and medical staff to make the most of our time onsite.

The surgical focus for the week is urological, with an educational focus on evaluating and implementing ways to improve surgical outcomes with a multidisciplinary approach.

The children couldn't be sweeter, and proud families anxiously await life-changing surgeries. More later.....
Ashley Chitty, RN bonding with a sweet patient

The team is greeted by many happy families.

Dr. David Vandersteen, Pediatric Urologist 

CSI team, IPSAC, Vietnamese staff and Interpreters preparing for the first day.

Thank goodness for interpreters!!

Dr. Jesse Hennum, Pediatrician 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Team has Arrived Safely, and Ready to Work!

After extensive travels, including 4 airports and a very long bus ride, CSI's team of volunteer surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, pediatric nurses and support staff have made it safely to Thanh Hoa, Vietnam!
We were welcomed with open arms by friends both old and new. We are fired up and ready to work this week for these beautiful kiddos on the other side of the world. Keep watch for news to come - screening day is tomorrow. Now for some much needed sleep.....