FACES Peru Trip | Day 2

Today is the first day in the OR. Armed with nerves I arrived after the first patient was all prepped and ready to go. Yessica and her family traveled over 24 hours to come to the clinic for her pallet surgery. Traveling by bus, back of trucks and walking, her mother, father and sister all made the trip. During the consultation with the parents Yessica's Father said he was so thankful. He continued saying, his daughter would have never been able to have the surgery because he, as a father, cannot provide enough food for his family yet alone surgery for his daughter. To admit that must have put a wrench in his gut, but also let us know how extremely thankful he and his family were for what was about to happen.

As the shy girl entered the OR wrapped in Tammy's arms I could tell she was nervous. Soon she was put under and the process began. Let me interject Yessica's story for a moment to admit it would be the first time for me to be in the OR to watch surgery. Period. I have to say I was nervous, nut not as jittery as I would have expected myself to be. Secretly I was hoping my camera would act as a buffer or my adrenalin would kick into high gear as I stepped into the room. Albeit, I cannot give you technical specs or fancy medical terms, however, I can give you my account of her time here.

Yessica's surgery lasted 3 hours. It's quite a interesting process and thankfully I was able to gain access from the top observing room which is situated directly above the operating table. Having a birds eye view was perfect for many reasons, but mainly being able to have the visibility from above. The mouth is a small place to operate and there are already a lot of people in the room! Aaaaand it also gave me a buffer as what to expect when I entered the room myself. After spending a good 15 minutes up there at the beginning of the surgery. Feeling brave I ventured back downstairs, convinced someone to come in with me just in case I fainted. Armed with my camera and fake confidence I entered the room to find a much calmer situation than I expected. I was careful not to touch any of what they call "green space" and photographed the team at work. I know everyone has their jobs and responsibilities, instruments and such, but was I amazed to be in the OR and to see how seamless everyone was working together. Most of the team has met one another just a few days prior and is now functioning like a well oiled engine. Yessica's pallet was very wide as I was told. What the surgeons ended up doing was cut the roof of the mouth along the upper molars on both sides, then stretch it across the middle to fill the hole, and then tack the incisions by the molars back together while including something to stimulate the re-growth by the upper molars. During surgery I was able to get up on a step stool and look directly into her mouth to photograph the actual surgery. Gotta love that fake courage cause I did fine. No fainting for me and the process was intriguing.

As Yessica's operation carried on I noticed one thing out of place in the OR room. It sat at between her feet and acted as her little guardian... a teddy bear. At 13 years old she's still a child, but with this surgery hopes to hold the confidence of a adult.

Going into surgery....

More tomorrow!
Big Smiles! Melissa Tomeoni with Soul Mates Photo.