Posted on 24 March, 2014

Sunday afternoon in Siem Reap was spent with the senior OHI team members reviewing cases for screening. The matrix and deciding factors are immense. We have to decide which patients will have the best outcomes, but also which cases give the best education for the local Cambodian team. The education is a big factor, the more we can teach the Cambodians to be independent, the more cases they’ll be able to do without our help, and thus reduce the waiting list far more effectively.

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We saw almost a dozen kids and sadly had to turn down two whilst adding six to our surgical roster for Monday and Tuesday. The process consisted of a carefully managed afternoon with close consultation with the OHI Cardiologist and Surgeons as well as the local team. The team had to determine how sick the kids were and how our surgical team could produce ensuring the best results for the patients and their families during our limited time in Cambodia.

The Cambodian parents were obviously anxious and the language barrier added to the stress in the room. It was great to see the kid’s resilience though, they even managed to smile whilst we covered their chest in goo and performed ultrasounds on them.

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The lowest point in our afternoon was when we had to advise the mother of a five year old girl that her daughter had a better chance of surviving longer without the operation. This was due to the fact that she is probably too ill to survive the surgery and post operative care, and that she will have a limited lifespan. Something no mother ever wants to hear. Not an enviable position for anyone, but in typical Cambodian style the mother took the news with grace and dignity.

The screening process was a rollercoaster of emotions with everyone trying to make life-changing decisions based upon the best use of our time ensuring to leave the most positive and lasting impact.

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Tags:  Cambodia,