For the past two trips to Kyotera we were lucky enough to be joined by Dr. Robert Wangoda. Dr. Wangoda is an accomplished general surgeon in his community of Masaka, and he is learning about cleft lip and palate repairs from our GMAST doctors. It is the mutual aim of Dr. Wangoda and GMAST that he take over the program in the coming years. With this goal in mind he scrubbed in for every day of surgery and assisted our doctors in both lip and palate operations.
Today, we were surprised, yet pleased, to see eleven-month-old Previous. Last spring, Previous came to us malnourished due to her bilateral cleft lip. We performed a repair and are glad to report that today she was happy, healthy, and healed!
Two years ago my dream became a reality when I started Global Medical and Surgical Teams. I want to thank you for your support and tell you what happens when you contribute your time or donate your money to GMAST: Lives change. It seems a trite statement but it is true.
Because of your gifts, people in remote areas of the world have access to necessary medical and surgical care:
- A tiny baby born with a cleft lip can now breastfeed and get proper nourishment from her mother.
- The baby’s mother, who was shunned by family and community members for giving birth to a baby with a cleft lip, is reunited to her social network
- A 21-year-old man rejoiced, “I can now get married!” he said after his cleft lip was finally repaired
- A 30-year-old woman who had been living with a poorly repaired cleft palate received an obturator (prosthetic device) to close the gap between her mouth and nose so she can speak better and can at last eat and drink without food and liquid spilling out of her nose
Your gifts have further impact:
- These trips are valuable experience for volunteers who travel with our Team. Volunteers often return home resolved with new commitments to help others.
- People who live in Kenya or Uganda are encouraged by our presence and work – as we come alongside them in their need.
- Medical personnel are able to exchange information and learn new skills as they collaborate in the work to care for patients. We partner with local medical teams to invest in long-term, sustainable outcomes.
You change lives through your contributions and we are grateful.
Some examples of how your financial gifts are spent:
We purchase a lot of medical equipment and supplies for each trip. Although we receive some donated supplies, the countries that we travel to have very specific expiration date requirements and many donated medications and sutures have expiration dates that do not meet these requirements. For instance, in Uganda, if we bring ANY medications that expire in less than one year from the date we enter the country, the Ministry of Health can confiscate ALL of our supplies until they have inspected everything and properly disposed of those “short expiration” items. Obviously, this would tie up our supplies until far after the date of our return airplane tickets. We simply can’t take the risk, and so we must purchase longer expiration items to minimize potential risk.
We are committed to providing safe anesthesia and safe surgery so we travel with our own mini hospital of providers, equipment and medication. We also partner with local providers and facilities to enable training and sharing skills and supplies.
We could not do this without you! Each person that travels with us buys their own plane ticket. If we are able (some donors give specifically to help with volunteer expenses), we cover the lodging and food for the volunteers. We also require that each volunteer have travelers’ medical insurance. Last year, an anonymous donor covered this expense for our Uganda team (ranges from $50 to $100 per team member depending on their age). We are grateful for donors who can help with these travel expenses!
I am so proud of our organization and the work that we do. I am moved by the amazing people that I have met during my volunteer medical travels and I am so grateful for the support of friends, family, and complete strangers! You guys are awesome and we truly could not do this work without you. Thank you!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving and know that you are making the world a better place, one smile at a time.
Michelle B. Vessely, MD
One of the sweeter (and louder) moments in the Operating Room is when the children come out from under anesthesia after a successful surgery. They blearily blink at the strangers around them as they shake off the confusion of drug induced sleep and, inevitably, let out an ear-piercing cry. What swiftly follows is an absolute tantrum as they adjust to the stimuli surrounding them, and the pain in their mouths.
From this moment they are transferred to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit.
In the Post Anesthesia Care Unit they are monitored and comforted by CURE nurses who rub their stomachs and shoulders, whispering sorry baby, sorry.
When the child is stable and calm, they are returned to their mothers arms and monitored for the first couple of days of recovery before being released home to enjoy renewed health and a life transformed.
One of the driving goals of GMAST is to facilitate training for local healthcare professionals. On this trip our CNRAs (certified registered nurse anesthetists), Holly and Robin, worked alongside student anesthetist Emmanuel. The three of them were able to exchange information and techniques for the good medical care of children now and into the future.
We are pleased to engage such opportunities and relationships as we partner with local medical teams in support of their work.