ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 1, 2009 - Approximately one in every 700 children in the United States are born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Comparatively, about one in every 250 people in Latin America suffers from this birth defect. Thus, there is a significant need for doctors to perform corrective surgery for patients, but these patients don't always have access to doctors or the resources necessary to undergo the procedure.
Six-month-old Alberto Hernandez Aguilar from Veracruz, Mexico, was born with a cleft lip. However, Alberto won't have to live with this deformity forever, thanks to SHARES International and a team of volunteer medical staff from Winter Park Memorial Hospital, a Florida Hospital. Alberto's life was impacted tremendously this month, as a group of plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and volunteers traveled to Veracruz for one week and worked side by side with Mexican surgeons to perform more than 50 cleft lip and palate operations on local patients.
"These opportunities are few and far between," said Gary Bush, Operating Room director at Winter Park Memorial Hospital. "It was an honor to jump in and lend a hand and still have the skills at this stage in my career to give direct care. This is an organization that has committed itself to what the mission stands for - to extend the healing ministry of Christ."
This trip was sponsored by Winter Park Memorial Hospital, a Florida Hospital; the Hospital Regional de Alta Especialidad de Veracruz; the Villa Rica Rotary Club of Veracruz and SHARES International. Four Winter Park Memorial Hospital employees participated in the mission, as well as a group of volunteers including Winter Park residents Dr. Saffran and Miles Saffran.
SHARES International, a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of the Florida Hospital Foundation, is dedicated to creating partnerships between medical professionals, community organizations and government health entities. The surgical branch focuses on developing multidisciplinary cleft lip and palette clinics by partnering with specialists such as plastic surgeons, orthodontists, speech therapists, psychologists and others.
For media inquiries only, contact Florida Hospital Media Relations at 407-303-8217.