The Mölnlycke Health Care blog

Volunteering with Operation Smile in Bolivia

By: Anna Dahlberg, April 22 2014Posted in: The Mölnlycke Health Care blog

As part of Mölnlycke Health Care’s ongoing support for Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe, Mölnlycke Health Care employees can volunteer to take part in Operation Smile missions. Employees Anna Dahlberg and Adam Dansby recently returned from an Operation Smile mission to Santa Cruz, Bolivia and will share their stories.

Part two: Anna Dahlberg chronicles her experience in her Operation Smile diary


Saturday 15th March - Three days before departure

Today is the big packing day! What do you need for a two week trip to a hospital in Bolivia?! A lot of things go into the suitcase as well, such as gifts like mirrors that I am bringing from Mölnlycke Health Care. I am starting to get a bit nervous, but I am also excited, cannot believe that soon I’ll be in Bolivia!

Tuesday 18th March - today I’m taking off!

First flight to London, then onwards to Miami, then La Paz, Bolivia and finally on to Santa Cruz. A long trip in front of me but soon it’ll be time to meet all the mission volunteers as well as the first kids and families hoping for a change. I’m so happy that I get the chance to be a part of this!

Wednesday 19th March

We’ve arrived in Bolivia and Santa Cruz. Following on from our travels, today we get to relax and bond with one another in preparation of the first screening day, which will start early tomorrow. Really great to see so many different people from all around the world come together and connect for a great cause.

Thursday 20th March – First day of screening day in Bolivia

We arrived at the hospital at 7 in the morning and the screening process started at 8. Everyone involved just went directly to their duties and regardless which country we each came from or what language we spoke, everyone just got on with what needed to be done.

We started to organize the work for the screening process, which was amazing to see – “organized chaos”, they called it. The screening process is where all the children who come to the hospital meet the volunteers: nurse, plastic surgeon, paediatrician, anaesthesiologist, dentist, speech pathologist, imaging technician – so they can get their medical records ready for potential surgery next week.

I spent my day with the imaging technician and there I followed all the children as well as adults on their way through the screening process. We met 130 or so children today who are all hoping for a big change in their lives.

The screening day continues tomorrow. Then on Saturday the lists of those selected to have surgery next week will be confirmed.

Friday 21st March – Second day of screening in Bolivia

Today is the day! After two days of screening, during which we have met so many wonderful kids, it is time for the kids and their families to get the decision, “Will my son/daughter be one of the kids who will go into surgery next week?” So a lot of mixed feelings and emotions. The goal is 125 patients during four-and-a-half days, so the coming week will be intense.


Learn more about the Operation Smile volunteer experience in the Mölnlycke blog. Check back with us or subscribe to the blog to make sure you get to read the continuing story!

Volunteering with Operation Smile - Part one: Adam Dansby writes about the two-day prescreening process

Volunteering with Operation Smile in Bolivia - Part three: Adam and Anna start their second week with Operation Smile: Surgery week

Volunteering with Operation Smile in Bolivia - Part four: Adam and Anna head into days four and five of their Operation Smile surgery week

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The surgical and wound care environment is always changing. The Mölnlycke Health Care blog addresses topics and trends in surgery and wound care. Among these topics are efficiency, health economy, infection control and patient safety. Read more about this blog and how to comment.

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