Accra Ghana Temple

Accra Ghana Temple
Accra Ghana Temple

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Operation Smile

Operation Smile came to Ghana and I got to be a nurse for a week!  Their focus is patients in need of surgical repair of cleft lip and cleft palate.  This is done at no cost to the patient.  Housing and food are also provided to the patient and a family member.

I worked in the pre-op/post-op "tent" at Ridge Hospital in Accra, Ghana.  This was a first for me.  I did screening interviews.  People came from all over Ghana hoping to have surgery.  We had local and foreign pediatricians with us in the tent who helped determine if someone was a candidate for surgery or not.  Some of the adults had high blood pressure.  One child had malaria.  Sorry, no surgery this year.  We had two "scabies babies."  Fortunately, after 3 baths with the anti-scabies cream, they could have surgery. 

To assure that the patients had nothing to eat or drink after dinner, they spent the night in the tent and slept on foam mats on the floor the night before surgery.  Ghanaians are very patient and tolerate inconveniences well.  Before surgery, the babies cry because they are thirsty.  After surgery, the babies cry because they are thirsty.  I felt like I was feeding baby birds as I gave them apple juice with a syringe.  That is easier for them to swallow than liquid from a cup.  Often, the cleft palates had to continue with nothing to eat or drink for a day after surgery.  Explain that to a 6 month old, I dare you!  The best you can do is distract them with a toy or bubbles (which they've never seen before) and keep their IV intact so they are hydrated.  Watching a young woman look at her new face in the mirror after surgery was wonderful.

It was amazing to be part of this "Mission."  We had nurses and doctors from around the world.  We had plenty of volunteers from the Peace Corps, the Lions Club and yes, the LDS Church.  Our Area Welfare Humanitarian Services partnered with Operation Smile as a sponsor.  At the conclusion of the 10 days, 321 individuals had received comprehensive physical exams and 111 surgeries had been performed.  Our youngest surgery was 4 months and our oldest was 74 years old.  Lives were changed.  It was a miracle.

1 comment:

  1. Shannon, you are my hero! That is EXACTLY why I wanted to get the BSN. I am so glad you got to be part of OS. Now that I have the BSN, the next hurdle is NCLEX and a job in Med-Surg. Hopefully in a couple of years I can qualify to help out as well.

    Love your blog.