Operation Of Hope targets 100 free facial reconstructive surgeries in Zimbabwe in May

Operation of Hope, a 29-year old, US/Canadian based surgical charity, is planning their 24th surgical mission to Zimbabwe. Since 2006, they have performed more than 5,000 free cleft surgeries for children and adults, in Zimbabwe alone.

100 children and adults are targeted for a free facial reconstructive surgery at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, Screening Day: Sat. May 5th and at Harare Central Hospital, May 19th, 8:30 am

Last year’s mission, included one special patient, 11-year-old Arthur whose face was recently crushed by a donkey cart. The surgical team, headed by Christiaan Schrag originally from Bulawayo Zimbabwe, along with Dr. Ryan Frank, performed a 4-hour surgery using plates and wires to put Arthur’s face back together. “The timing was perfect,” said Operation of Hope, CEO Jennifer Mora. It was Friday and usually our surgical schedule is completely full but on this particular day, we just happened to have enough time to perform this amazing surgery,” Arthur.

This past mission was particularly successful, because Jennifer Trubenbach knocked on the door of Econet and asked if they would assist them in helping get the word out, especially to the rural areas, so patients would come for screening day. “It was highly successful, she said because we had more older patients than we’ve ever had in the past 11 missions. “Our oldest patient was 47, but we had several patients ranging from 16 and up suffering from a primary cleft lip.  Some people had traveled 48 hours to make this trek of hope, desperate for someone to make life different for themselves or their child,” she said.

The team of Board certified reconstructive surgeons and 18 other volunteers, support the confidence and social success of children around the world. “Having an attractive smile is crucial not only for self-esteem but also for the ability to interact effectively in modern society, where smiling is one of the most basic interactions between people,” says President of Operation of Hope, Jennifer Mora Trubenbach, “Some of these children don’t have a smile at all. Often, they cover their mouths and are hidden from school or church because of this relatively easy to fix problem, being a cleft lip or cleft palate.”

Operation of Hope depends on the kindness of private citizens, sponsors and the services of medical volunteers as all surgeries are free of charge to patients and their families.

“We are often asked as Americans, are we independently wealthy to do this work. No, Jennifer smiles. Most of the volunteers love to come to Zimbabwe  for the very reason they first got into medicine – to help as many people as they can because they love doing so. Several of our volunteers are retired and instead of playing golf they choose to do these missions. Most of the nurses raise their funds by fundraising their own airfare by sharing the excitement of this trip with family and friends. Operation of Hope’s funding comes from just ordinary people with big hearts and who truly understand what it would be like, if their own child needed his surgery and didn’t have the financial means. And, she adds, we love the beautiful people of Zimbabwe and their incredible spirit.

Schweppes Zimbabwe was most helpful in providing juice and water for the patients, as well as, thanking the team with a celebration team dinner. “It’s more than water and juice, said Jennifer “If babies are hydrated before surgery it’s much more difficult to put in an IV, and after surgery the water and juice is so instrumental in rehydrating the patient so they can recover faster. “We are so thankful to Schweppes for truly understanding our mission and helping us take care of these kids as safely as we can,” she added.

Kingfrey Chizema, whom Jennifer met on the social media site LinkedIn and his son Jacob, both from Harare, came to the hospital on their last day with a beautiful luncheon for the team.  “I wanted to extend our gratitude to your team for the great job that you all are doing for our country,” he said.

And, for the first time since 2006, the Ministry waived the Medical and Nursing counsel fees for the team, saving the volunteer team thousands of dollars in registration fees. We are hoping they will extend this kindness on this upcoming mission.

This year’s team represents volunteers from Canada, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Alaska and Massachusetts. Emirates Airlines in partnership with the Emirates Foundation  was also instrumental in helping with the volunteer’s airfare.

In the US, this is a $35K -$80K surgery and the Operation of Hope team raises money all year to offer these surgeries for free to Zimbabweans.  Not only are cleft sufferers given the changes they need to have a chance in society, but they also receive these improvements from qualified medical professionals, regardless of their ability to pay.

Please contact Jennifer at jtrubenbach@gmail.com for more information.


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