First Surgery Day – Ethiopia 2017

Surgery day one complete!

We are off and running. It took a little extra time to get underway this morning – part of the process of getting organized. We arrived at the hospital early to find a courtyard full of families waiting for us. Some were those scheduled for today. Others were waiting for tests or confirmation about surgery. And still more were coming for the first time. Fifteen patients asked to be seen for the first time today after hearing that we were in town. They had a variety of inquiries – some things as simple as clearing wax from ears. We did screen five new patients, who have been added to the surgery schedule.

Today we performed six life-changing surgeries. Ethiopian Drs. Wudie, Teshome, Birara and Sintayehu were in the OR with our teams the entire day. Each doctor had a chance to work alongside CSI surgeons Dr. Chinnadurai or Dr. Robitschek. It was exciting, and they were clearly proud to complete some of the surgeries independently. By the end of the day, Dr. Birara was even coming from surgery to update the families – a practice that is not as common in Ethiopia.

While the children are in surgery, the families wait in the same outdoor corridor where we do our check-in and screening. The families are so worried and scared. Imagine what it must have been like to be the first mom who gave her child to the Americans for surgery Monday morning? That was the mother of 7-month-old Bizhayu. When she finally came out of recovery a few hours later, mom almost did not recognize her with her repaired cleft lip! Bizhayu was getting post-op care from CSI nurse Hayley Bye and the Ethiopian nurse interns, and mom was so relieved. “Biz” was breastfeeding and eating in no time. We expect her to go home tomorrow!

Ten-month-old Amanual was born with a bilateral cleft lip; it was repaired today. Mom and dad were so anxious and worried for him. We reassured them that the surgery often takes time, especially because of the teaching that is taking place in the OR, but that he was doing great! I’m not sure how much our reassurance helped, until mom had him in her arms. It’s scary to see the swelling at the site of the repair, and Amanual was (understandably) still very sleepy. It didn’t take long before he had porridge all over his face and was eating well! His mom was relieved.

Three-year-old Zenaw was so patient while waiting all morning for surgery. She is a beautiful girl with a large cleft palate. When Dr. Robitschek, along with Dr. Birara and Dr. Wudie, started the surgery, they discovered the cleft palate repair was more complex. With some extra time and the great skills of our collaborative OR team, she came through like a champ. Needless to say, she was not quite as bubbly immediately after surgery. She had some juice and fluids and was resting comfortably when we left the hospital at 8:30 p.m.

With six families in recovery, Dr. Saira Mitha and Haley Bye, R.N., did evening rounds with the local nurses, with lots of support from our friend and key CSI team member Dr. Ayenew. The surgeons, along with CSI anesthesia lead Dr. Gathuya and medical records volunteer Cindy Halverson, made revisions and additions to the full Tuesday surgery schedule and it is complete. We are ready to head back to the hotel for a late dinner and some rest.

We can’t wait for day two to see our patients and families from today and to help create lasting change in the OR for seven more children and this community.

View photos from the trip here