2019 Operation Taghoy! – Naga City

You all have “Lived”, Sister T. said,” You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you”. Keep “Living”.Shared by UI’s Beloved Surgeon, James E. Bertz, MD, DDS, FACS

DAY 1:   It was an incredible first day here.  A record number of people came from all over to Naga City in the Philippines to see the team from Uplift Internationale.  The team of 51 from was able to screen over 100 patients on Sunday for cleft lip and cleft palate surgery that will be performed during the week. 

 Through hard work and efficiencies the team was able to screen over 100 patients on Sunday with minimal wait to the patients and their families

 Two member of the team from Uplift International working closely with family and patients to make sure their experience is an enjoyable one.   

At least 64 of the patients will be scheduled for surgery to be performed by 4 surgical teams.  Dr. Capoot cleared 11 patients for surgery on Sunday to make sure to have time for all of the patients and their families that came to see the surgeons from Uplift Internationale.  Dr. Bertz has been on roughly 85 mission trips throughout his career and this is the first time he can remember doing cases on Sunday.  It is a good thing as with patients continuing to arrive the teams will need to do roughly 20 cases a day to service the needs of the patients.  This is the second mission of this type I have joined.  It is incredible the difference this makes in the lives of so many people. 

Day 2: Our second day in Naga was very productive.  We were able to operate on 18 children.  It such a joyful event to see the hope in the eyes of these loving parents and family members fully understanding the life changing surgeries for these precious children.  The surgical teams started early in the morning and went well into evening helping the children.  Team members stayed well into the night making sure post operatively everything ran smoothly with a few on call people every night.  With 51 people here in Naga, everyone has plenty of work to do.  The team also has outreach programs that educate families, children and schools on proper dental care while providing  toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash.  Everyone receives a toy whether a patient or one of the many children educated.  The team also collects shoes and clothing to distribute to families in need.  Tomorrow and the next day we will look at outreach programs that distribute over 500 pairs of eye glasses together with education on how to correctly use their new eyewear.

Day 3: Tuesday was a very productive day.  16 patients were able to have life changing surgeries performed.  The majority were cleft lips and palates completed by the four surgical teams starting at 7am and finishing well into the evening.  The patients from the previous day are all doing well and so happy with their outcomes.  It is nice to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.  Wednesday looks to have an additional 21 surgeries.  News crews covered the work of Uplift Internationale to communicate the important benefits to the local community.  Patients have come from as far as 5 hours away.

In the afternoon roughly 150 local residents were fitted, tested and received reading glasses.  It is touching to see the impact Uplift Internationale has not only on the lives of patients and their families, but the local residents as well.  Tomorrow the team will visit local schools to not only pass out toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash; but also provide education on how to maintain good dental hygiene.  The children will all brush their teeth twice a day including once a day at school.  This will help make sure the good practices they learned will be continued.

Day 4: Wednesday was our fourth day in Naga.  We were able to get through about 20 patients again.  Most were cleft lips and cleft palates.  The team is really enjoying working together and find the hard work rewarding.  We now have quite a few post operation children.  They basically receive little pain medication other than Tylenol.  The pain seem very manageable and the children are very happy with their results.  You can see the look of joy and appreciation on the faces of the parents.  These types of surgeries are truly life changing.  Not only does it make a major difference in their appearance, it also helps substantially with speech and ability to eat.  Some of the children will be in need of follow up surgery which will happen when the team returns next year. 

The Outreach program screened and distributed another 150 sets of reading glasses to the local community.  It is amazing to watch their faces when they see the difference and how clear the glasses make their ability to read.  Hannah,  was able to certify 20+ people in CPR to better help the community.  Both Hannah’s training for CPR and eye glasses will continue on Thursday.  Several members of the Outreach team visited a school about an hour out of town in the countryside.  The children were instructed proper dental hygiene.  They were each provided a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash.  To make sure they brush twice a day, they will have a time each day in school where they brush their teeth.  It was Cindy from Outreach and Surgeon, Dr. Tom Williams birthday today. What a wonderful way to spend their Happy Birthday.

In Summary, 87 impoverished Filipino Children received FREE life changing cleft surgeries in January 2019. UI is excited to return to Naga in 2020.

Check out this great video that the Stony Brook Anesthesia crew shot during the 2019 mission!  https://youtu.be/fMw2zIHGecE

Above blogs written by Steve Bertz, Son of Surgeon Dr. James Bertz