Team off to Fiji
Fijian children born with facial deformities will no longer draw stares thanks to a dedicated team of Auckland medical experts.
Two surgeons, two nurses and an anaesthetist are this week providing free reconstructive surgery at Lautoka Hospital with humanitarian organisation Interplast.
Patients suffering from burn scars, deformities such as cleft lip and palate, nerve and tendon damage, skin tumours, and nose, face or jaw fractures, will all benefit.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Martin Rees is part of the team that left on Saturday.
“It’s helping underprivileged children and trying to give them a start in life they wouldn’t otherwise have,” he says.
Mr Rees says the number of congenital deformities in the Pacific Islands is high.
Some babies have cleft palates so wide they can fit adult fingers through the gap, making it hard for them to swallow or eat.
“It’s seeing the joy on the faces of the mothers when, after surgery, the children can learn to talk properly and when they smile, they have a nice smile.”
Mr Rees, who has worked with Interplast for 24 years, says facial deformities are inhibiting and make it harder to succeed in life.
He says most Pacific Island doctors are only trained to a community level. Many rely on aid from organisations such as Interplast.
Mr Rees and cleft and cranial facial surgeon Zac Moaveni hope to complete 60 to 80 operations.
Surgery saviour: Martin Rees is part of a team flying to Fiji to perform free life changing surgery for families who can’t afford it.