Thursday, August 21, 2008

Smiles All Around

Last night we brought our first group of Operation Smile patients onboard, 11 children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years old who would be operated on today for the repair of cleft palates and or cleft lips. Each surgery ranges from 1-3 hours, depending on the extent of the process. For example, a cleft palate will likely take about 2 hours while a cleft lip will take roughly an hour. It was a relatively quick procedure, and I am very happy to report that each surgery performed today has gone supremely well and all 11 children, our “Terremotito” included, are resting comfortably in their family’s arms and hugging teddy bears given to them following the procedure.
Operation Smile has much experience with children like the ones on the Kearsarge. This international organization began in 1982 in the Philippines. In recent years, Operation Smile worked with the Navy 4 times, in 8 different countries. Every time, the composition of Operation Smile teams is international – here on the Kearsarge personnel from 6 different countries are onboard. There are 31 Operation Smile people on the Kearsarge. These 31 represent so many different medical specialties, including surgeons and anesthesiologists, pediatricians and plastic surgeons, translators, medical records, a child life specialist, dentists and speech therapists.
Tomorrow these children will depart Kearsarge and head back home as another group of 10 head in for surgery. Each family has been given a seminar on how to care for the child post-surgery along with new toothbrushes and antiseptic to ensure the appropriate care can be taken.
The teamwork that is occurring onboard this ship is amazing and can hardly be described in words. It is amazing to see what good can be accomplished and how many lives can be drastically improved in such a short amount of time - a 3 hour surgery that will allow young children to carry out their lives with a greater level of normality.


J P said...

Commodore Ponds,
I read your blog with great interest. My son is a member of your crew -USAF Tech Sgt Derron Price. We are so proud of him and excited that he had this opportunity to serve his fellow man and increase the good-will for the USA alongside your naval personnel! What a great tribute to the teamwork that Americans have come to represent. I didn't know about Operation Smile. This too, is such a wonderful service. The world is becoming smaller & smaller and I believe that I speak for Derron as well when I say that we all must pull together in service and in love. Thank you for making this information available to a proud mama and American citizen. You and your crew are in our thoughts and prayers as are all of our leaders and Armed Forces personnel. Highest regards, Jayne Powers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Commodore Ponds,

I just wanted to say thank you for an incredible life experience and the chance to work with you and all the courageous and talented men and women aboard the USS Kearsarge! As a Certified Child Life Specialist on the mission I can tell you that those bears meant more to those children than you could ever know! The soccer balls were a huge hit to as well as the tee shirts and photos for the families. Thank you for all those extra touches they really made the families feel at home on the ship! Best wishes for safe travels and fair seas!

Elizabeth Olsen, Certified Child Life Specialist ~ Operation Smile volunteer