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Romania Day 2 2014

Botosani, Romania –

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, everybody rushes out the door, expecting a long and busy day of consultations and surgery both at the Children’s and the Adult hospitals. A large group of people already waiting in front of the clinic make the volunteers feel very excited to start work.

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The clinic is always busy with a steady stream of children and adults. Within 2 hours, we exhausted our eye glasses reserve. Surgery started early and the doctors saw surgical candidates that were scheduled for procedure during the next few days. All patients are seen in the clinic by our General Doctors and sent for plastics/ENT, orthopedic, or general surgery consult at the Children’s or Adult hospital by the appropriate surgeon. The surgical schedule run by Mark and Pradeep are fully booked through the end of the week and this is only our second day.

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Lots of children travel with their parents from distant villages to see the Americans. They seem to come to the clinic not only for medical checkups, but for the hope that one can see in their eyes.


The most impressive case by far was that of a mother and her cleft-palate baby, from the village of Unteni which is a few dozen kilometers away from Botosani. Desperate that she could not find help from doctors in nearby cities, the 42 year old mom came with the little girl in her arms for a medical consult.

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At 1 year and 3 months of age, Cristina-Elena has a congenital abnormality of the face: cleft lip and palate. Her face is held together by a stent and she is fed through a tube since birth. Dr. Hechler closed her lip and promised to close the palate next year if she comes back. The before and after photos are life-changing. After surgery, the pregnant mother of 8 said between tears “I have eight more children at home and all are normal. Now I can say the same about the youngest.”

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The Adult hospital was very busy again today. Our orthopedic doctor and his Romanian doctor counterpart performed 6 surgeries and countless consults between cases. The major surgery of the day, however, was a colon resection in general surgery performed on a 73 year old and lasted nearly three hours. The patient needed the surgery after being diagnosed with cancer. The Americans and the Romanians scrubbed in together during surgery and helped each other while improving the life of the woman. “It was great to have the chance to learn one from the other’s experience” – said Dr. Selim after leaving the operation room.


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Romania has one of the highest numbers of orphans in the public system compared to most countries and Botosani reports having over 1500 either in orphanages or in foster homes. Our coordinators contacted the Botosani Child Protection Agency and, after lunch, two of our clinic physicians went to visit a large complex of public orphanages where they performed general consults. In the morning the team was invited by the Botosani county Prefect. Our mission coordinators made the trip, shook hands, and reminisced of the first medical mission in 2001 in Botosani. The local press is ever so present during our activity as well.


The day went by in a blink of an eye, ending in a countryside trip to our coordinator’s uncle’s house in the village of Cosula.

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Tomorrow is a new day and the team is looking forward to coming back bright and early and help the good people of Botosani. They are friends and family for our mission volunteers, not just patients, and the team happily takes on long hours, crammed spaces full of people, and the rapid pulse of our mission.


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Dumitru Calinescu & Laura Conde

Photos by David F. McKinney © 2014