Humanitarian service in Peru

August 2018 – Vol. 37, No. 7

In April 2018, the Northeast and Northern California divisions of Healing the Children completed their fifth annual cleft lip and palate mission to Ica, Peru. In partnership with the AAFPRS Foundation’s FACE TO FACE Program, the 36-person mission team was led by Evan Ransom, MD, an ABFPRS-certified facial plastic surgeon from San Francisco, CA, and Joseph Rousso, MD, FACS, an ABFPRS-certified facial plastic surgeon from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.

A young patient following the repair of a unilateral cleft lip

Additional surgical staff included Augustine Moscatello, MD, an otolaryngologist practicing in Westchester, NY; Jordan Virbalas, MD, a pediatric otolaryngologist from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA; Scott Mosser, MD, a general plastic surgeon practicing in San Francisco, CA; Sean Alemi, MD, a fifth-year otolaryngology resident from the University of California, San Francisco; and Kirk Lozada, MD, a fourth-year otolaryngology resident from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. Anesthesia care was provided by a stellar group from Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, TX, and Yale New Haven Health in Connecticut.

Dr. Alemi (left) and Dr. Rousso (right) perform a first-stage microtia repair using rib cartilage to build the ear construct

As in years past, the team began their mission by being enthusiastically greeted by a waiting room full of families and their children, some of whom traveled up to 48 hours to reach the Hospital Regional de Ica. With the assistance of pediatricians, speech and language pathologists, anesthesiologists, nursing staff, and several local medical student volunteers, the team nearly matched last year’s record by screening 125 patients. From this group, the surgical team successfully completed 75 operations during the week, highlighted by 18 primary cleft lip repairs, 29 cleft palate repairs, 4 frenuloplasties, three cleft rhinoplasties, two first-stage microtia repairs, and a second-stage microtia repair for a patient on whom the group had performed a primary repair the preceding year. With the addition of Dr. Mosser’s expertise in general plastic surgery, the team also performed one syndactyly repair, as well as release of a severe upper extremity scar contracture. Once again, the speech and language pathology group worked with a large group of previously repaired patients, as well as children from the community with non-surgical speech and swallowing disorders.

The team is already gearing up for next year’s mission. To learn more about Healing the Children, visit www.htcne.org and www.HTCNorCal.org.