Romania 2015 – Day 2
Certain patients we see during the mission stay with us well beyond our leaving Botosani. Last year a tearful and nervous mom of 9 (with one on the way) brought her infant daughter to see Dr. Hechler in hopes that he would be able to fix her cleft palate. The baby’s name was Cristina, she had a feeding tube through her mouth, along with a pair of very scared blue eyes that shed tears of frustration at the sight of all the Americans cooing around her. The mom would say “all my children are healthy, I want this one to be healthy too” with tears streaming down her face, wiping her eyes with a white tissue that contrasted too much against her earthy looking hands. This woman couldn’t be more than mid-thirties, yet her appearance and overall demeanor aged her considerably. Somehow the baby’s weight in her arms seemed meaningless compared to the weight of the baby’s severe deformity and prospect of life. The mother entrusted little Cristina to Dr. Hechler who fixed her outer lip so she would be able to breathe normally, swallow food and drink liquids on her own. The surgery was a resounding success, the baby started to eat and drink on her own once healed, but she still had two areas in her palate that needed closing and her gums.
Yesterday, we saw a familiar face waiting in line at the clinic for pre-screening – the girl’s mother. She looked better somehow, happier. One face that wasn’t recognizable was the one of a beautiful little blond girl, looking shy and cheeky at the same time. Our baby Cristina was doing great, she was beautiful. Her mother brought her to Dr. Hechler again this year so he could finish the job and make sure everything looked good with the first surgery. Our doctor consulted Cristina carefully, with sheer joy in his eyes at the sight of a healthy little girl whose life he had changed.
The baby was scheduled for surgery today at 8am, she was quickly taken to the OR while the mom waited nervously in the hallway. “My child would still be fed through the tube today if it hadn’t been for the Americans, may God bless them” she said. “I couldn’t take my baby to Iasi, I didn’t have money nor time to leave my family and 8 other children. My Cristina is now much better, so I am happy.” She held the glass of still water as if it were a pole, very firmly. She came by bus from Unteni village, traveling through heat and dust to make sure she got to the Americans on time. When the little girl came out of surgery, the mom’s body tensed at the sight of the sleeping child, but later relaxed when told she could see her daughter while she was recovering. The girl was out the door pretty quickly, which made her mom even happier.
The team saw plenty of interesting surgical cases today, with Dr. Hechler performing 7 procedures from 8am to 5:30 pm and Dr. Heddings performing 2 orthopedic surgeries with Dr. Malancea at the Adult hospital after clinic consultations. One of our EMTs Jason Purinton joined the local ambulance crew who was quite busy today due to increased heat stroke complaints. Botosani was in the 90s today.. Our physiotherapist joined the Children’s Hospital Recovery Director on the floor and got to see first hand how kids receive what our Romanian collaborators call kinetotherapy or massage therapy. Overall, a very busy day for our team.
The clinic saw close to 100 patients, with Andrei our clinic flow director and translator making sure everything ran smoothly. Throughout the day a steady streeam of patients flowed through the clinic, as opposed to yesterday when it seemed like they all came to see us at the same time. The team gave out more reading glasses to very thankful patients, ending the day with a fun visit to the nearby village of Cosula, at Laura’s uncle’s house. While Botosani is a beautiful city, the team enjoyed visiting the countryside, eating grapes off the vines and sampling the traditional mici with sheep cheese, all locally sourced.
Sarah Brooner is a delegate of the US-based Project CURE organization and she joined our team at Dr. Heddings’ request to assess Botosani hospital equipment needs. She has lots of experience with Eastern European donations as she recently shipped a container full of medical equipment and supplies to a hospital in Bulgaria. She lived im Bulgaria for a few years and she had already visited Romania for leisure before. Today she held a meeting with all the Children Hospital’s department leaders to ask for their top three equipment or medical supplies needs. She went from room to room, department to department in the hospital to make sure nothing was missed as far as medical needs in her assessment. She loves to help. She loves to travel. Her goal is write down as many requests as possible from the Romanians so she can go back home and have a good list to work with. While she cannot guarantee she can send everything, she hopes to have most sent out to Botosani. We set up a meeting with the local Health Department Director for Wednesday so she can finalize her official assessent and start working on the Adult hospital assessment.
The amazing photos from the Romania Mission are provided by Vlad Catana.
You can follow his work at www.facebook.com/VladCatanaPh
Click on an image for larger gallery view.