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Giving and Receiving

Posted on 7/4/2017 by Olivia Ortega
Seven years ago I was asked by a friend and colleague to join a surgical team to go to Mexico to treat patients with cleft lip, palate and facial deformities. It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional and personal life. Our team is self funded and composed entirely of volunteer nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, and surgeons. Each year we travel to central Mexico and operate a clinic and small surgical facility. The team has named itself “In Your Face” based on the type of care we provide. Every year we have patients who return for follow up care, we enjoy watching them grow up and make progress. Antonio is one of these special people.

Antonio is a delightful twenty four year old man who lives with his mother in rural Mexico. He is unable to speak but radiates a warmth and kindness which requires no translation. I met Antonio in January of 2010 at the Clinic of the Good Samaritan in Tatoxcac, Mexico. He came to the clinic with his mother and had a severe bilateral cleft lip and palate. It was remarkable that he was twenty two years old and he had not been treated. It is unusual, even in developing countries that his deformity was not addressed earlier in his life. In our society living with this type of deformity for twenty two years would be unconscionable. Antonio’s bilateral cleft lip and palate make it difficult for him to eat and impossible for him to speak. I cannot imagine what it would like to be in public with this type of deformity.

In January of 2010 our team repaired his lip. He came back to see us this January and Antonio is doing very well. He and his mother were very pleased and grateful. He brought us a very heavy bag of oranges that he picked himself. It was one of the nicest gifts that I have ever received.
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