By Dr. Asif Malik
File: IMANA doctor Asif Malik and colleagues operating on a patient in Sudan. Photo by Jessica Censotti
IMANA Medical Reliefâ€™s (IMR) 4th Annual Surgical Mission, SaveSmile, was a great success thanks to the support of our donors and our extraordinary volunteer team. Thirty-two Healthcare Professionals and student volunteers traveled from the United States from March 1-8 to Sudan, seeking to help the Sudanese population suffering from the congenital anomalies of cleft lip and palate. The team included plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, emergency medicine physicians, pediatricians, pediatric intensivists, dentists, surgical residents in-training, medical students, registered nurses, and support staff including a translator (attorney). Alhumdulillah, in 5 days we provided for 200 patients with many patients undergoing both cleft lip and palate reconstructions. Since 2009, approximately 500 patients were provided free surgical care, with the proper medical services needed, to repair their clefts.
Within a few hours of arriving at the Dental Technician Hospital of Khartoum on March 3rd, medical supplies were unpacked, operating rooms (OR) were prepped, and patients were quickly registered. The team members were assigned to particular roles to setup work areas including a workroom for supplies & medications, registration & preoperative assessment, IV access, recovery room (PACU), and 6 OR tables. Surgeries took place in two ORs, each with 3 tables and proper monitors with oxygen sources, allowing for the care of 6 patients at a time.
As some of us have previously witnessed, there was an excitement in eyes of the families already waiting as the team prepared. Each volunteerâ€™s experience undoubtedly left them with live-changing memories. There are endless stories heard and captured about the challenges faced by the patients & their families while seeking out this opportunity. Some families traveled for days, sold goods/farm animals, in order to afford the means of reaching to Khartoum.
As we were walking up the stairs to the hospital doors, we were overwhelmed by the compassion of a young girl carrying her baby sister tightly in her arms. The look of compassion and warmth in Kanza Ahmedâ€™s eyes said it all; she was on her own mission to help provide the best possible life for her 6 months-old baby sister, Malaz Ahmed. After the procedure, the innocence and happiness of the family members was indescribable.
Later that day, the first case of the repair of a cleft palate came was scheduled. Musa Hossain, a 12 year-old boy, had been suffering from mental and social stigma. He relocated from one city to another to avoid the disgrace that his fellow students brought to him in school. He was not welcomed; but laughed at. An IMR team member asked the patientâ€™s family why he would not respond to her, and their answer was heartbreaking: â€œHe isnâ€™t responding not because of fear, but because he is scared of what is to come; he does not want to be laughed at anymore.â€
Malaz and Musaâ€™s family were looking to remove the agony and fear that many cleft lip/palate patients live through on a daily basis. Without the support of our donors and the help from our volunteers, it would not have been possible to turn this dream into a reality. The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is a constituent member of the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA), which is made up of representatives from 33 countries. SaveSmile 2013 included a team of highly skilled physicians from Turkey as well as support staff from the Sudanese Islamic Medical Association (SIMA). We want to thank the SIMA for the warm welcome and hospitality; the Doctors Worldwide team from Turkey for coming out and helping with the surgeries; and FIMA for being such a great partner. The IMANA team is very grateful for having such a phenomenal opportunity in helping others change their lives and saving smiles throughout Sudan.
SaveSmile 2013 US-based volunteers included, Plastic Surgeons: M. Azhar Ali, Kamran Jafri, Parvaiz Malik, Mahdi Shkoukani, and Khalique Zahir. Anesthesiologists: Inam Hussain, Kashif Irfan, Umar Khan, Asif Malik, Ismail Mehr, and Amir Mian. Pediatrics/Emergency Medicine: Saroosh Ahmed, Kanwal Chaudhry, Saquib Lakhani, Ali Taqi, and Badher Zaheer. Dentist: Asra Ali. Surgical Residents: Nurain Fuseini, Mehr Qureshi, and Kashif Saleem. Medical Student: Tarick Sheikh and Zoya Tirmizi. R.N./Pharmacist: Shaista Ali and Mariam Laiq. Non-Medical: Haythem Aboushi, Tahaine Aboushi, Khurram Khan, Haashir Lakhani, Osama Lakhani, and Nada Salem.
All of our volunteers from the US pay for their airfare out of their own pockets. IMR brings the needed supplies and SIMA coordinates our stay and other logistics. It is estimated that all of the supplies needed for one-surgery averages about $200. The SaveSmile mission has attracted many volunteers; those who are unable to travel help by spreading the word and making a donation of $200 or more to the mission. The IMANA Medical Relief volunteer team is eager to continue their extraordinary surgical mission in Khartoum, Sudan. Preparation for the next mission begins immediately.
IMANA Medical Relief provides medical and surgical missions around the globe. During the week of SaveSmile 2013, a separate team traveled to Haiti as part of its continued support of primary care services following the earthquake. This IMR team provided essential healthcare needs for 1,952 patients. To learn more about IMANA and its relief projects visit www.imana.org. If you would like to contribute to the SaveSmile Mission, you can donate online or mail a check payable to IMANA (memo: SaveSmile).
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