This little baby is about the right age for a cleft lip repair. Even a bit younger is really ideal. If treated while still an infant, there is a better outcome for development of the upper jaw and dentition as well as speech. Here you see the child at 48 hours post surgery, with some swelling and sutures still in place. We use absorbable sutures on the skin for two reasons–one, the babies typically live a long way from the hospital and won't have to return for suture removal, and two, have you ever tried to remove tiny sutures from a tiny, crying, moving target? Another great invention is tissue glue, called Dermabond, which we apply over the suture line. This seals the wound and helps prevent infection, makes it water tight, and means no dressing, wound care or antibiotic ointment is necessary. These babies can breast feed in the recovery room and feeding and nutrition is greatly improved after repair of the cleft lip.
Today we had a special guest in the operating room–the President of Zambia! I will have some photos to share later. He came to see Dr. Clawson and it was great PR for this wonderful charity hospital. The employees haven't had a salary increase in 3 years (due to a severely decreased budget due to the economic downturn and reduction in donations) and the President indicated today that he would help fund the hospital. One of the orthopedists shared with us that he worked without salary for the entire first year of his time at Beit Cure hospital. And, we stayed late today and were joking about overtime when the nurses told us they never ask for overtime. These nurses work without a break and the OR turnover time is better than any US hospital I've worked in. I'm going to brag about our anesthesiologist again today–Dr. Tshoma is incredibly talented. These children may be very disadvantaged, but I am pleased to report that they receive excellent care when they reach this facility. Check out www.cure.org to read about other services for children (hydrocephalus, club foot…).