Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A day in the OR

Today we had the wonderful opportunity to spend a few hours in the operating room to observe all the hard work of the doctors and nurses. We saw smiles transform in a matter of a few short surgeries.  After a visit to post-op to help out the nurses and check on a few patients, we changed into our scrubs and were all ready to see the excitement of the OR! A little nervous at first, we had visions of ourselves passing out but in the end when we got in, it wasn’t as bad as we had thought it would be. We all survived with no problems.
Walking in to the OR, we were able to choose from 5 tables to observe. Each surgeon was working on a different case whether it be a cleft lip, cleft palate, skin graphs for burns, or just a birth defect. It was nice that all the surgeons were willing to talk to us and explain what they were doing with each instrument. We were very happy to have been able to see a wide spectrum of the work that goes on in the OR for Operation Smile.
One of the surgeries took about 3 hours long. This case was the little girl, Joyce, a 7 year old girl who had been caught in the refugee tent fires(we talked about in one of our previous blog posts). It was a bittersweet feeling watching that surgery happen; grateful that Joyce got to receive surgery on her arms and some parts of her face, but also very sad to see the horrible fresh looking burns. Even with this 3 hour surgery, Joyce is still going to need tremendous amounts of more surgeries and follow up care which will require her to stay strong for the next few years. For this, Joyce will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.
Seeing the before and after results of surgery in itself is wonderful but, today we got to see the process from before to after in action and it was truly amazing. Being able to see the talent and effort of all of the professionals in the OR as well as how beautifully the cleft lips and palates were repaired in such a short amount of time gave us strength and determination to keep doing our part in making sure the children do get to be treated.  We are so thankful that we are part of such a wonderful team in Nakuru!
After 4 and a half hours of watching surgeries, we finally headed out of the OR and visited with patients waiting.  The rest of the afternoon, the waiting area was pretty mellow with mostly adults in the Child Life room.
Some team members headed to a historical museum nearby on a hilltop named Hyrax Hill and we decided to join. We got to see the different areas that various tribes occupied throughout Kenya. We hiked to different sights outside of the museum to see archeological sights were a tribe had lived a long time ago. It was very interesting to see the kinds of things that this tribe did to survive, ward off their enemies, and also provide themselves with entertainment.
We really learned so much today from surgical procedures and cases to how a variety of Kenyan tribes live. “You learn something new everyday”, but how lucky our we to have learned so many things in one day that we probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for this tremendous opportunity.

Connection of the day:
Karina: After two hours of watching children come in and out of surgery, Donna, the surgical coordinator, asked me if I could help her walk in a baby to the OR. I think that she could tell that this was something I had been itching to do ever since I got into the OR. I walked outside to talk to the mother of the child that I was about to take in to surgery. She seemed a bit nervous but I tried calming her down with a smile and a pat on the back. The baby boy’s name is Kevin. He is 2 yrs old and had an incomplete cleft lip. I had no idea what to expect when I took the baby out of the mother’s arms. I was terrified that he would start to scream and cry for his mother out of fear. Baby Kevin was so calm. As I walked away from his mother, I reassured her that he would be taken care of and made the baby wave back at her. Kevin stayed calm as I walked him to his operating table. He kept looking around the room, very curious of his surroundings. As I tried placing him on the table, he started to cry so the nurse told me to just hold him until it was time to operate. Back in my arms again, baby Kevin seemed pretty content. I rocked him until his eyes slowly began to close. They placed him under anesthesia and I watched his entire surgery from start to finish. I can’t even describe the feeling I had when I saw the completed lip. I am so excited to go see him tomorrow morning when he is fully awake from the surgery.



  1. What an AWESOME experience Karina.
    Good for you!!

  2. Your story keeps getting better and better... really enjoy reading them.