Last week while in Nicaragua, the team was doing rounds, checking on patients recovering from surgery. Volunteer plastic surgeon Steve Garner (Santa Cruz, CA) went to visit Yader, a burn survivor who had his neck contractures released, for a post-operative examination. Dr. Garner reviewed his work from the day before, gave his approval and then gently rewrapped the dressings around Yader’s neck. Before he left the room, however, he motioned over toward the nearest translator to ask a favor. “Can you please thank him for me?" he asked. "Tell him it has been an honor and a privilege treating him.”
On a team trip, much of the day is spent in the operating room, recovery room or rounding in the wards. Our volunteers and counterparts rush around focused on their various responsibilities, occupied with whatever task is at hand. It is written all over every face—how can I provide this patient with the best possible care, most efficiently? But in between this highly organized flow can be brief interludes where the patient and provider connect in a way that has less to do with medical treatment and everything to do with being human. These are the moments which serve as reminders of how much our volunteers and partners care about our patients; reminders of the heart they put behind their work.
Twenty-two-month-old Francisco, nervous away from his mother, clings to volunteer nurse Celeste McCartney for comfort. (photo: Loan Le)
While waiting to have his bilateral ptosis repaired, 7-year-old Jafet gives a high-five to volunteer anesthesiologist, Loan Le.