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Deutsche Bank partners with Smile Asia to change lives in Medan, Indonesia

January 2016 │ Indonesia

To start off another year of volunteering, Deutsche Bank Asia Foundation organised a volunteer exchange trip in partnership with Smile Asia (formerly known as Operation Smile Asia) to Indonesia, from January 17 to 23.

10 Deutsche Bank volunteers from various offices across Asia Pacific joined a group of international medical volunteers in the city of Medan in North Sumatra for the medical mission to provide specialised cleft lip and palate treatments to the underprivileged in the area. The Deutsche Bank volunteers participated as non-medical volunteers, providing administrative and translation services to the medical team in a variety of functions from pre- to post-surgical procedures, including helping out in the operating theatre.

The week-long project was undertaken at the Murni Teguh Memorial Hospital in the heart of the city. Close to 50 patients and their families arrived on the first day for registration and screening. Patients were mainly children, but there were a few adults who had endured this affliction their entire lives without access to corrective treatment.
Some of the families travelled long and arduous journeys from all over Sumatra to reach Medan, in order to bring their loved ones to the hospital for this treatment so they can be given an equal opportunity in life.

As the patients streamed into the hospital, our volunteers guided and assisted them through the screening process - each patient was examined by a pediatrician, anesthesiologist, plastic surgeon, and dentist.

Despite the first day of working together for both the medical and non-medical team, the group cooperated effectively and by late afternoon, all the patients were registered and screened.

Patients who were eligible to undergo surgeries were announced at the end of Day One. They were subsequently admitted to the hospital’s wards for pre-surgical procedures.

The rest of the week was designated for surgeries. At the start of each day, the medical team leader conducted a briefing to highlight medical protocols and key issues relevant to the day’s surgeries. Three medical teams, operating in two operating theatres, performed more than 30 life-changing surgeries, staying late at the hospital when complications arose and the surgery schedule had to be pushed back. The medical team remained on call at night to manage any post-surgery complications. In these five days, 34 lives were changed.

One particular patient left a lasting impression on the volunteers. Screening day was brightened by 15-year-old Rosalina, who was born with a cleft lip. Rosalina currently studies music at a local music school, and has won several local singing competitions. In between screening stations, she was coaxed to belt out a tune and soon, the room is filled with volunteers, patients and their families drawn in by her beautiful voice. Rosalina’s dream is to take her singing career to the international stage, and came to the hospital after hearing about Smile Asia’s mission in order to undergo a lip scar revision surgery, which will aid her in her singing career. However, the medical team warned her that general anesthesia may affect her vocal cord. Focused on achieving her dream, she opted for local anesthesia instead. She was very brave throughout the process and the operation was a success. Now, Rosalina is one step closer to becoming who she is born to be.

All the volunteers felt the trip was well worth the effort. One commented, "To be able to see the impact we are making, from helping to screen the patient before the operation, and seeing them in recovery after the operation, it is the best experience.”

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Last Update: February 15, 2016
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