The Mölnlycke Health Care blog

Volunteering with Operation Smile in Bolivia

By: Mölnlycke Health Care, May 12 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 three: Adam and Anna start their second week with Operation Smile: Surgery week

Little girl at Operation Smile in Bolivia at screening

After two days of screening, announcement day and a team day, we are ready to start week two of our mission- the surgery week, which means 4.5 days of surgery.

Operation Smile USA and Operation Smile Bolivia have assembled an incredible team of medical professionals. We have surgeons from all over the US, Bolivia, Venezuela, Egypt and Bolivia. The plastic surgeons, dentists and anaesthesiologists are some of the best in their respective fields. The nurses hail from all over Bolivia and the US. Everyone has a great attitude and came ready to work!

Surgery: Day One

The first day of surgery is generally the toughest. There are always kinks and curve balls that need to be dealt with. And this first day was no exception. We had patients not show up and some who had not come through pre-screening come in anyway in the hopes of being operated on. But the team dealt with everything with style and a smile.

Every day starts with a team meeting to go over outcomes from the previous day's procedures and to discuss the day’s upcoming surgeries. It is obvious that everyone is passionate about the mission. The energy is contagious. Today we get to observe in the O.R. The O.R. team finds a groove very quickly and the PACU quickly fills up. There are only five beds but the staff juggles the patients with ease.

Most of the patients are children. But depending on the condition and the schedule, adults are sometimes seen. Today, a 62-year-old woman with a severe cleft lip is going to be operated on. She is calm and stoic as she enters the O.R. She appears to have no fear. The operation lasts just over an hour and is a success. It is a total transformation and she is very happy with the outcome.

Older woman at Operation Smile in Bolivia at screening
Before surgery: She will become another satisfied customer!

Patients come and go as the day wears on. Today, the team puts in a 14-hour day. And as we pile into the bus, it is clear that everyone is exhausted but satisfied. All that is left is dinner, and then off to bed. Wake up call is at 5:30 AM and we all need our sleep for another busy day tomorrow.


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 in Bolivia - Part one: Adam Dansby writes about the two-day prescreening process

Volunteering with Operation Smile in Bolivia - Part two: Anna Dahlberg chronicles her experience in her Operation Smile diary

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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