Until Next Year…

The Sri Lankan adventure has come to an end. It was both a humbling and great learning trip as it was the first time the Smile Bangladesh team had been there. We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors – the Lions Club – and to the hospital staff at Tellipalai for their hospitality. The biggest thanks goes to the patients that allowed us to care for them. They are the reason for this mission and we hope we were able to touch their lives as much as they did ours.

It was a true pleasure to visit a new country although it was stepping into the unknown. After hearing the stories of the patients that survived the civil war, it became clear that we were in the right place to help. However, we found that many needed more than we could provide for them at the time.

As the team begins to head back to the States, plans are already underway for a trip next year for more extensive procedures. A tax-deducible donation of any amount would help immensely in getting the materials and resources used during the operations and treatments. Feel free to contact Smile Bangladesh for more information on how you can contribute to this cause or visit the Donation page here: http://www.smilebangladesh.org/donate.php

Until next year!


Last Day of Surgery

Hard to believe that we have already completed the last full day of surgeries. Once again, the day began by rounding with patients who were all healing very well from their procedures. All but one of the patients were sent home already to continue their recovery. The General Surgeon at the hospital will continue to follow up with them but is able to reach Dr. Aziz with questions at any time should they arise.

There were 11 cases on the schedule today that varied a bit more than yesterday. Scar revisions and cleft lips for adults and children were worked on with many of the patients responding positively almost immediately after surgery.

Another local school was visited earlier today as well. A younger group of 150 children where given oral consultations, toothbrushes and toothpaste this time as well. Many of the kids had a good sense of dental health already but asked very good questions like what amount of toothpaste should be used and how long should brushing take.

This week certainly went by very quickly given that there is still plenty of work to do in this area. We are hoping to be able to return in a year to begin treatment that would be beneficial to most of the population that we saw. With your help and generosity, we can give the people that lived through the war a new beginning and hope. For more information on how you can contribute, please visit the Donation page of the Smile Bangladesh site here: http://smilebangladesh.org/donate.php.





Surgery and School Day

The team had a great second day of surgery! The day started by rounding on our patients from the day prior – who all did well. We then continued our day with 10 more surgeries, heavy on scar revisions, while three members of the team visited a local school.

At the hospital, we are realizing that a facial reconstruction camp is what is most needed. Sri Lanka had been plagued by a bitter 30-year civil war that ended only 8 years ago. The results on the population are visible as they visit our cleft camp. Cleft procedures, while important, are superseded by the significant need for a Maxillofacial reconstruction camp. As mentioned in earlier posts, although many people are being screened, this particular team does not have the resources or materials to take on such cases. Facial and body burns, untreated facial fractures, missing ears, eyes and noses are prevalent at this site. This is the reason why we spent much of the second day not only on cleft patients, but also repairing and revising facial scars from shrapnel and bomb blast injuries, as well as burns. In a year when we return, we are planning a lengthy facial reconstruction camp which will require a lot of pre-visit planning, funding, and materials. It will be an unprecedented challenge for us to fund and run a facial reconstruction camp but one we are willing to take on head first. With your support and hard work we can change lives and bring hope.

The school was a change of pace from being at the hospital but equally as rewarding. Over 100 students about the ages of 6 or 7 were given dental consultations, toothbrushes and received oral hygiene education. The school children participating exuded enthusiasm, curiosity, and interest in hearing from our team members. They were extremely eager to learn and receptive to new methods of brushing that will hopefully reduce the amount of cavities found upon examination. The importance of keeping a clean mouth was reinforced with other ways to maintain one besides brushing, such as abstaining from decay-inducing foods.

While here, we are working with limited internet capabilities but rest assured that we are working on getting a gallery up soon! Keep an eye out for that.

First day of surgeries

The first full day of surgeries began bright and early with a hearty group breakfast. From there, we all made our way to the hospital where we were welcomed most graciously with a very lovely Opening Ceremony lead by the Lion’s Club, our sponsor here in Sri Lanka. At its conclusion, it was time to start heading back to the operating theatre to prep the rooms for the day.

As the tables were being readied, the surgeons took the opportunity to screen more patients. There were about 50-60 that were seen and 25 that qualified for the type of surgeries that we were prepared to do. It is truly heartbreaking to turn away people who have been waiting but many were burn victims and we wouldn’t have been able to provide the treatment they deserve with limited resources. Most patients chosen have facial deformities and/or will have scar revisions.

Of the 6 patients that had been chosen yesterday for surgery today, one had to be canceled because of complications found upon further screenings. However, 5 surgeries were completed successfully with hopeful optimal results for recovery.

The day turned out to be nearly 12 hours from start to finish although it flew by. Needless to say, the only thing that could be heard on the bus ride back to the hotel was the heavy sound of exhaustion. After a restful night, we’ll be ready to tackle day 3.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming gallery with photos from today and later this week.

Prepping for Day 1

After a seven-hour bus ride that turned into a nine-hour bus ride, we finally made it to Tellipalai Base Hospital and started prepping for the first day of surgery tomorrow. Anesthesia, the surgeons and PACU are ready to go after setting up the “operating theatre” (as they call it here in Sri Lanka).

Admitted patients in the male and female wards were screened to see if they would be suitable for surgery. Some waited for days to see if they could be helped, but unfortunately, only 6 of about 20 seen were eligible.

Tomorrow we’ll have more updates on how the surgeries went.