“When you go, you realize the impact (you can have),” said Dr. Rajendra Sawh-Martinez, a pediatric plastic surgeon at AdventHealth for Children who started his medical mission trip journey while still in medical school.
Dr. Raj, as he’s known, got emotional while talking about his recent medical mission trip to Mexico helping improve the lives of children with facial detects.
“People have very strong stigmas against these poor children … who are born with a deformity that’s front and center. It’s their face, it’s their lip, it’s their nose and through a couple of hours in a day we can change their entire life,” said Dr. Raj.
When the doctors travel on these trips, they go in large groups with nurses and other volunteers and often bring their own medical equipment. The teams go to Central & South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. The trips involve long days – surgeries start at 7 a.m. and they work until sunset.
Globally, the Sharing Smiles program has transformed the lives of more than 26,000 people by providing hope and healing to disadvantaged children through free, quality health care. The program partners with the host country to provide smiles three ways:
- cleft lip and palate treatment
- comprehensive dentistry
- individualized pediatric rehabilitation
Dr. Dobson, an anesthesiologist for AdventHealth Orlando, says it’s truly a labor of love. He has donated his time and expertise with Sharing Smiles since the late 1980s.
“I can’t give them clean water. I don’t know how to give them electricity, but I can go out and put them to sleep and wake them up. I can be part of a team that helps them have a better life,” said Dr. Dobson.
During the most recent mission trip to Bolivia in April 2023, AdventHealth physicians were part of the Sharing Smiles team that screened 60 children and conducted 38 successful facial reconstructions.
To learn more about Sharing Smiles and how you can get involved, click here.
Watch the full FOX 35 News story featuring Dr. Dobson and Dr. Raj here.
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