Category Archives: Mexico

Brayan’s smile – Hermosillo 2017

Day One of CSI Hermosillo 2017 trip is in the books, with 20 beautiful children receiving cleft lip and palate surgeries. There are so many stories of love — along with fear, worry, sadness and ultimately hope. We are especially moved by the story of one 4-year old boy, Brayan.

Brayan and his family are members of the Yaqui tribe of indigenous people in Sonora. The Yaqui are very private. They speak their own language, have their own cultural traditions and live in their own communities apart from most of Mexican society. But when Brayan’s aunt, who is the only member of his family who speaks Spanish, by chance heard about the “Rostros Felices” mission, she took the unusual step of reaching out for help.

Brayan was born with both a cleft lip and palate. Because of his appearance and speech patterns, he has been bullied mercilessly by other children and has suffered emotionally and mentally as a result. Brayan arrived at the hospital after traveling with his mother and aunt by bus from their home nearly five hours away. You could see both hope and wary distrust in the women’s faces as they approached us to register him at the hospital. After waiting all day, Brayan was approved for repair of both his cleft lip and palate.

On Sunday, Dr. Brianne Roby performed the surgery. She says he came through it like a champ, and everything went very well. After the procedure, and just one night in the hospital, Brayan has a new appearance. He smiled shyly at us from behind his mother’s skirt before beginning the journey back home this afternoon.

The volunteers from CIMA tell us that they will continue to work with Brayan and his family to assist him with further developmental needs. We are so grateful for the chance to be part of a team of people helping this young Yaqui boy look forward to a normal childhood. It’s days like this that remind us: We really are making a lasting impact.

The first two photos below show Brayan before and after his surgery. Click here for more photos from the day.

Day Two is here, with 20 more surgeries coming up!

Big first day! – Hermosillo 2017

After many long hours of travel, the CSI team has all arrived in Hermosillo. We had a very busy day Saturday, screening 126 children at CIMA Hospital. The word has really gotten out about “Rosotros Felices,” and families came from all over the Mexican state of Sonora, many desperately hoping for help for their child.

The words “controlled chaos” get used quite a bit! To the credit of our team, the volunteers from CIMA, and the staff from St. Andrews Clinic, however, the experience was much more “controlled” than “chaos.” At the end of the day, after seeing all 126 kids, the surgery schedule for the week was created: 64 surgeries will be performed on 56 children (a few children need multiple procedures).

You might wonder, “What about all those other kids who won’t get surgery?” While there are always a few children who just aren’t ready for surgery this year, the majority of those not receiving surgery were here so that the CSI surgeons could evaluate their progress and make recommendations for speech therapy or future surgical procedures. This aspect of the mission is very similar to a traditional clinic, and is pretty unique. We are so grateful to see kids year after year and follow their progress!

Ana Karen has undergone eight surgeries since birth, and today at screening was given the joyful news that she has “graduated” from the CSI program. Her mother spoke tearfully about the great care she has received, and how her life has changed so dramatically because of it. Here she is, surrounded by our surgeons. (see Ana Karen in “photos” link below).

Another “graduate” is Perla, who returned for screening day this year as a volunteer and to help with kids. She also came back to say hello to us, and brought us all cupcakes and lots of hugs!

Perla was very young when she first came to St Andrews Children’s Clinic. She had been born with a double cleft lip. Perla was being bullied at school over her appearance, and was shy, scared and withdrawn. Now, years later, she is outgoing, assertive, and smiling all the time. Perla is currently in college and excited about her future! We are so very excited for her, and grateful to all of you who support CSI’s work. making her smile possible!(see Perla in “photos” link below).

We are so grateful to back here with our friends from St. Andrews and from CIMA Hospital, and most of all, surrounded by so many beautiful children whose lives will be changed with surgery. We are in process of completing 20 surgeries today!

Click photos to view some precious images from the first day. Stay tuned to hear more stories of hope and lives changed.


Stories from Hermosillo

As CSI surgical mission volunteers, we are so fortunate to meet many wonderful children and families. I wish we could share all our stories, but here are just a few.

Oscar –
Imagine the desperation of a mother who hitchhiked with her 1-year-old son from their home three hours away to Hermosillo hoping to receive surgery for a cleft lip. Oscar is one of five children whose family lives on a salary of $50/week. Due to a last-minute family emergency, he and his mother missed the CSI screening day. Frantic, but undeterred, she left home with Oscar in her arms. She had no money, and only some juice, water and a small bag. That night the two of them slept outdoors and started hitchhiking toward Hermosillo the next morning. They were picked up by a kindhearted taxi driver took them as far as the bus station. From there another taxi driver brought them to the hospital. We were pleased to be able to put Oscar on our surgery schedule.

Iker –
When Iker arrived last year as a 5-month-old, he was severely malnourished due to feeding challenges as a result of his cleft palate. At that time he weighed about 3 pounds, small enough to fit in a shoebox. Too fragile for surgery at that time, his very survival was questioned by medical staff. At screening during the CSI trip last year he was admitted to a local hospital for care. The St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic provided the financial and emotional support as he recovered. He arrived back this year for his CSI screening literally transformed, well nourished and ready for his cleft palate surgery. His mother is so very grateful!

Hannah –
Three-year-old Hannah received the best gift ever! Her father promised her that after her cleft lip surgery he would buy her a brand new two-wheel bike. At the end of her bed when she awakened from anesthesia, she found a new pink and purple Peppa Pig bike. Hannah was out in the hallway riding the bike – which was decked out with shiny tassels and training wheels – three hours later under the very careful supervision of her mother and hospital staff.

We wrapped up the surgeries today with a total of 57 children helped in just three days. The team was able to add three children who were on the “maybe” list for surgery as well. One of my favorite things I heard this week was from a St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic staff member. She quoted the guardian of a young boy that CSI provided surgery a few years ago. “I gave him a home, St. Andrew’s and Hospital CIMA gave him a life, and CSI gave him a smile.”

The generous and hospitable Hospital CIMA volunteers treated our team to a farewell fiesta last night. We enjoyed fabulous Mexican food fit for royalty, in the most lovely historical home in downtown Hermosillo. The evening was filled with music, karaoke and dancing late into the evening. Early this morning the team completed their final rounds, discharging the last 16 of our darling patients. Needless to say, there were smiles all around. Goodbye Hermosillo, until we see you again.

Thanks to our amazing and talented CSI volunteer team, St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic and Hospital CIMA Hermosillo. Because of great partnerships CSI is able to change many lives, one child at a

First days in Hermosillo

Nineteen CSI surgical, medical and nursing volunteers made their way to Hermosillo, Mexico, this weekend from various locations around the U.S. A few flight delays made connections difficult, but the team was grateful that American Airlines was willing to hold a departure so the CSI volunteers (and their vital equipment) could make it to Hermosillo on time.

St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic in Nogales, Arizona and CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo are important partners for our Mexico surgical missions. The St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic is involved in critical advance preparation for the CSI team, making certain the children are ready for surgery and that consistent follow-up is maintained. Because of CSI’s long-term partnership with Hermosillo, we have been able to follow some children over several years, making certain they have the ongoing care and subsequent surgical procedures that are sometimes required in these complex cases.

CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo welcomes the CSI and St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic team with wide open arms each fall. Their staff and volunteers are amazing. Not only are the children and families treated with the utmost care, we are as well. Our welcome included singing, balloons, hugs and even tears of joy.

The team is in the midst of its third day of work already. Our first day on the job was filled with screening 122 children accompanied by very hopeful parents. A team of four specialized ENT, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, pediatricians and pediatric nurses evaluated the children – while the anesthesia team and OR nurses readied the operating rooms for several days of packed surgical schedules ahead. Once all the children had been seen, the surgical schedule for the week could be finalized.

The first day of surgeries was long and productive. Twenty kids had life-changing procedures, which require a team effort. Tasia, our medical records volunteer, has many responsibilities. She manages medical records, directs traffic, translates, dresses kids for surgery, comforts crying babies and supports anxious parents. (and this was all in her first four hours on the job starting at 6 a.m.)

Let me tell you about baby Manuel. At 15 days of age, his family left him a village hospital. Manuel had been born with a bilateral cleft lip. His parents may not have known that a relatively simple surgery could repair the problem. They may not have had the financial resources to pay for care. They may not have understood that there doesn’t need to be any shame in giving birth to a child with a defect. They may have been ostracized by their community. Manuel is now 6 months old and has been living in an orphanage. He is ready to have surgery to repair the birth defect. The CSI team is thrilled to provide the care he needs to thrive and grow. He is pictured with his caregiver, Carolina, who loves him as her own.

Teamwork for kids in Hermosillo

We are on the last day of surgery! So far, the theme of our work here is twofold: teamwork and flexibility. Each is necessary to do the work of helping more than 50 children this week. Fortunately, everyone here on the CSI team, as well as our partners in this mission, excel at both.

I just had a conversation with one of the wonderful volunteers here at CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo. She needed to convey some information to me that I then needed to pass along to a surgeon in the operating room. Her English is almost as bad as my Spanish, but with smiles, some hand gestures and a lot of patience we managed to understand one another. Working as a team, we were able to achieve what we needed to say and do.

Another example of teamwork and flexibility: A mother and father came to the St. Andrews Clinic in Nogales looking for help for their son. He lost his ear in an accident last year, and although he is now recovered, the taunting and bullying he suffers as a result of his appearance is terrible. Clinic volunteers brought him to see us, and CSI surgeons and a local CIMA plastic surgeon examined him this morning and made a recommendation about the best way to help this boy.

The players here are numerous: volunteers and staff from CSI, St. Andrews Clinic, CIMA Hospital and the CIMA volunteer organization. The beautiful thing about this trip is that it all the components work so well together. All of us have the same goal: helping children and families in need. No matter what language we speak – or don’t speak – or what our priorities might be at home, we all work as a team here to bring smiles back to so many faces. I’m honored to be surrounded by so many talented people, working together toward a common goal.

Off to a great start in Hemosillo – October 2015

Saturday was our screening/evaluation day at the CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo, Mexico. We saw 104 patients, and 49 were scheduled for surgery with CSI this week. For a variety of medical and surgical reasons, the remaining children were not ready for a surgical procedure at this time. With our extra surgical day in Hermosillo this year, and energetic team members, we will be able to accommodate all of the children who were ready for surgery.

Sunday was our first surgical day for the week. We had 18 patients on the operating room schedule, a mixture of cleft lips, cleft palates, bone grafts and one rhinoplasty. This was an extremely busy day, with operating rooms busy into the evening.

Some cleft lip and palate repairs require several surgical procedures over time, with the rhinoplasty being the third or fourth procedure. Children in developing countries with clefts may never have an opportunity for even the initial repair, let alone subsequent procedures such as rhinoplasty. Because of the ongoing partnership with the St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic/CIMA and Children’s Surgery International, we are able to offer this high level of care to the children of the region who deserve as much as anyone to proudly share their beautiful smiles!


Last Day of Surgery

We had a very good day of surgeries yesterday. The kids kept Dr. Pablo very busy with a little bit of low blood pressure here, a little fever there, a little wheezing down the hall, but Pablo, the CSI nurses, and the wonderful CIMA Hospital nursing staff took great care them all and by sunrise you would never have known there was a problem! The families are so grateful, and even the kids seem to leave with a look that the are happy to have stopped by…or maybe they’re just happy to be hightailing it out of here before we decide to do something else!

We had a very good day of surgeries yesterday. The kids kept Dr. Pablo very busy with a little bit of low blood pressure here, a little fever there, a little wheezing down the hall, but Pablo, the CSI nurses, and the wonderful CIMA Hospital nursing staff took great care them all and by sunrise you would never have known there was a problem! The families are so grateful, and even the kids seem to leave with a look that the are happy to have stopped by…or maybe they’re just happy to be hightailing it out of here before we decide to do something else!

Second Day of Surgery

Today we are beginning our second day of surgeries. We did 20 surgeries yesterday and everyone is doing well this morning. Maria, Ashley, and Paul are busy upstairs completing the discharge paperwork as all but two of the kids will be able to go home today. Everyone is working hard but the delightful CIMA Hospital food service staff keep the guacamole and quesadillas coming so energy and spirits are high throughout the whole long day (hospitals everywhere should take note!). Our patients are really good little sports–even after the bad day we made them have yesterday, some of them were able to give us little smiles this morning!

Full Screening Day and Settling in to the First Day of Surgery

Yesterday we had a really busy screening day at CIMA hospital! We screened 89 children and out of those, 46 will be getting surgery this year. Happily we did not have to turn anyone away who needed surgery because we have the extra surgery day on Tuesday. We will be doing six rhinoplasties (“nose jobs”). Often the nose is flattened and asymmetrical in children with a cleft lip or palate, and having surgery to correct this can really improve their appearance and their self-confidence. Rhinoplasties take a long time, and normally with only two days of surgery we may do only one or two so this is a great opportunity for us and the kids and their families!

Everyone on the team is doing fine, and now we are just getting started on our first day of surgeries. The CIMA hospital volunteers and the St. Andrew’s clinic volunteers are, as always, wonderful to work with and they make sure that every child and family is well taken care of!

Arrived and Ready to Roll!

The advance team has arrived in Hermosillo! Our trip was happily uneventful–we met up with Jon Grishkin in Phoenix and then took the puddle jumper (without the puddles) to Hermosillo. No problems with luggage or customs, and Coca and Lourdes from St. Andrew’s Clinic were waiting for us at the airport. We went to the hospital and were warmly greeted by the CIMA volunteers and staff who will be working with us this week. They’re starting to feel like family! We made plans for screening and checked out our supplies. We will be screening 86 children  to determine if they need surgery that we can do and to be sure that they are healthy enough for general anesthesia. Hopefully everyone will get a good night’s sleep tonight as we start at the hospital at bright and early and it will be a busy day! The CSI main team will arrive midday and check back for photos of the party that the CIMA volunteers put on for CSI and the children and their hopeful families! t