July 25, 2018
1/28/2018 - 2/2/2018 — Lucena, Philippines

Mending Faces was awarded a $5,000 grant from the International College of Dentists USA Section Foundation to aid with the expenses of the 2018 Mission trip. 

Mission Statement: Mending Faces' annual mission to the Philippines goal and objectives is to provide much-needed surgical care (free of cost to the patients) to impoverished children born with cleft lip and cleft palate. The surgery gives these children a chance at a healthy and normal life.

In just four days, the Mending Faces' team performed Surgeries on 73 patients: 33 lips, 34 palates, 4 combo lip/palates, 8 hand/burns. There were two operating rooms in use, with five operating tables. The surgeons and nurses worked from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm. The oldest patient was 17 years old, and the youngest was just 5 months old.

Four of the patients were returning, these patients had their lips repaired last year and their palates repaired this year. Most patients worked with one of Mending Faces' speech therapists.

Upon discharge from the hospital, each patient received a care sheet and a backpack of items including clothes, a calculator, a ball, pillow, stuffed toy, toy car, toothbrush/toothpaste and more!

Dental Treatment resulted in 80 Pre-Surgical exams and the removal of 18 teeth.

Mending Faces' team visited two elementary schools and nearly 1,000 children were provided with dental education. Each child received a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a toothbrushing/oral hygiene pamphlet. Six new students were sponsored to attend school!
Recent studies put the incidence of cleft lip and cleft palate at one in every 500 births in the Philippines. This is a much higher incidence than the United States and other developed countries. Further, we treat impoverished patients that would be unable to afford surgery if they had to pay.

Children born with cleft lip/palate have an immediate disadvantage when it comes to feeding and getting proper nutrition. This results in not being able to suck as an infant, and/or properly hold food in the mouth which leads to malnutrition, and many other health problems related to poor nutrition. The malformation in the roof of the mouth creates a continuous passage from the mouth into the nasal cavity.  This often causes constant upper respiratory tract and sinus infections throughout life.

The cleft lip/palate repair is our central focus; however, there is more that is done to restore the children’s oral health. The complete lack of dental care which is seen in the patient population presents a myriad of problems for the treatment team. The common patient presents with Rampant Gross Caries, usually accompanied by multiple acute and chronic abscesses along with multiple mispositioned and missing teeth, many which present problems in the Cleft Lip/Palate surgical areas. Teeth that are badly decayed and may compromise healing at the surgical site are extracted by our mission dentists.

Each patient is given a complete pre-surgical written evaluation and oral examination, to thoroughly evaluate the overall condition of the oral cavity. Then further emphasis is placed on the areas that are to be repaired by Cleft Lip /Palate surgery.

The fact that these patients are completely sedated presents a unique opportunity for the Dental Team to treat these problems that would possibly compromise the surgery. Multiple extractions in the anterior maxillary arch are accomplished with ease and are often seen with both acute and chronic swellings and draining fistulas. Rotated and ectopic teeth in the area are also commonly removed as it is a reality that no orthodontic treatment will be available to these patients, and teeth that might be retained under ideal circumstances are removed. In addition, any acute situations in other areas of the oral cavity are treated if possible.

Given the time constraints and the limited physical space, this approach has been successfully adopted in the treating of these patients by proceeding with treatment as necessary to alleviate any acute problems and concentrate on issues that might compromise the outcome of the surgery.

If a palatal cleft is too large to safely close, or other complications prohibit a safe surgical closure, then we offer the patient an alternative that will prevent food from passing into their nasal/sinus cavities and causing inflammation and infection. An obturator is fabricated by one of our volunteer dentists who works with a local dental lab to create the device.

Volunteers who participated (demographics):
  • 51 Mending Faces volunteers and countless local volunteers made up of: pediatricians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, speech therapists, dentists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and outreach,  restored hope and provided a brighter future to those whose lives are burdened by a cleft lip, a cleft palate, and other deformities.
  • Volunteers came from the following states and countries: Colorado, California, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Virginia, Washington, Norway, Philippines, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
  • Partnership with the entity being supported and collaborative efforts outlined. We have the support from various organizations and entities. The attached articles from DRE and UCHealth highlight two such collaborative efforts.

Blog Entries and Stories From the Volunteers

Jan. 29, 2018: Patients Come From Near and Far, By Board Member/Mission Volunteer Monnie Biety

The mission patients came from near and far for the screening. Many of the patients were local, from the city of Lucena.
One patient, Vince Nanale made a very long trip. Vince traveled for 7 hours from Polilio, Quezon. He made the trip in a boat, on a trike, and in a van. When he was 9 months old, he dipped his hand in boiling water and suffered a terrible burn. He is now 9 years old and has limited use of his hand due to the scar tissue. This is the 1st year that Mending Faces has performed this surgery. He is also very fortunate; as the plastic surgeons decided that he was healthy enough for surgery. Tomorrow, January 30, 2018, surgeons will perform a procedure to release the scar tissue so that he can use his hand again.

Jan. 30, 2018: My Thoughts, By Paige Grosser, Mission Volunteer
My name is Paige. I am a high school senior at Monarch High School in Louisville, CO.  This is my 1st medical trip and 1st time to the Philippines. The travel here was not easy or straightforward. It took about 24 hours and we lost a day in the process. When I got to Manila it seemed hectic, busy, hot, humid, and crowded. Also, there were so many things I had never seen such as jeepneys and trikes. Manila was so different than a city in the US.
We then made our way to Quezon Medical Center where we will do our mission. It had a large open foyer with big banners to welcome our mission. It amazed me how patients were in beds lining the hallways, the hospital was open to the outside, and there was a stray cat or 2 just passing through the hospital foyer.
I helped with the surgery screening day process and was in awe of the number of children and their families. The kids ranged from 4 months to 15 years old. Some of the kids were hesitant and others were playful. Even with all the difference in lifestyles, these kids were no different than anywhere else in the world.

Feb. 1, 2018: We Are All One Team, By Alison Stift, Mission Volunteer

This week has been an incredible experience, and most of all I have enjoyed seeing the group work together and seeing the drastic difference this organization makes in the lives of these children.

I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of it and to be a small piece of this purposeful week.  

The other day as I was walking down the hall in the ward past the 3rd year Filipino nursing students who eagerly asked if I could take a picture with them. Knowing I was part of Mending Faces they wanted to get a picture with someone who was a part of the team. I was super excited because I had wanted to get a picture with them also...partly because I love their outfits (they are clad in all white with nursing caps) and also too, because it’s so amazing to see these enthusiastic students in a county where it is so difficult to go to school to be a nurse. After seeing them, I started thinking of the kids we are helping here; and that they too could grow up and be in these students’ shoes, helping kids in their home country. The reach of this organization has far surpassed one child’s life. The impact of each child has a ripple effect and can alter an entire family and community.

Our patients may grow up to be doctors or nurses in the Philippines and impact lives of their own one day.

It’s wonderful to think how these nursing students were so excited to have their picture taken with a part of our team, and how I was thinking the exact same thing about them... because we are all one team.

Feb. 2, 2018: Joy, By Hiroko Yasuda, Mission Volunteer

When I first learned that I would be traveling to the Philippines, I was so excited. I have always wanted to go on a medical mission trip. I would never have imagined, I would be stepping into an experience that would be life-changing.

When I first stepped off the bus at our hotel in Lucena, I was greeted by many smiling faces and food and drinks were ready for us to enjoy. It’s true what they say that the people of the Philippines are one of the most hospitable people.

Walking down the streets of Lucena is quite eventful as you try to dodge the jeepneys, trikes, and motorbikes that fill the tiny narrow streets. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is the people are out and about, music is blasting and the stores are open what seems to be all hours of the night. For the past three days, my day has consisted of waking up, eating breakfast, walking to the hospital, working all day, walking back to the hotel, sleeping and repeating. Also eating mangoes, lots of mangoes all day and night. They seriously have the most delicious mangoes.

Although my days sound uneventful, minus the mango eating, my time working at the hospital is anything but. During this mission, my job is to work as a nurse in the ward. The unit is filled with 30 beds, placed closely together side by side. With 20 surgeries being done each day, our days are quite busy from making sure all the children are receiving their pain medication, drinking enough fluid and educating parents, in addition preparing for surgeries and discharges for the following day. Despite the fact that the days are long and busy, it brings me such joy when parents, grandparents come up to you and thank you and give you a huge hug because you know that the surgery that their child received is life changing. For me, my mission here is to help assist in making an impact on children’s lives as they have impacted mine.

Content Submitted by: Maya Brook, Mending Faces Executive Director


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