Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo medical mission
Operation Smile conducted a medical mission in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The team of 35 international medical volunteers from more than 13 countries will provided medical assessments to 190 patients and operated on about 96 patients.
Since beginning programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014, Operation Smile has conducted three medical missions in Lubumbashi. Operation Smile’s goal with its programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo expands beyond providing surgeries to treat cleft lip and cleft palate. Operation Smile is also committed to increase the surgical capacity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by deploying surgical programs, supplies and hosting education and training programs.
Elisabeth Priest, an Operation Smile Program Coordinator on the ground in Lubumbashi provided this patient report from the field:
"I am particularly excited to see one of our beloved return patients, Nelson. Nelson is known to Operation Smile as the 4-year-old boy with a bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate who refused to take off his purple crown during our medical mission here in October 2014. He returned this week to our medical mission in Lubumbashi to receive surgery on his cleft palate.
Nelson has a very standout personality. When I first noticed this young, charismatic boy during medical assessments, I was not surprised to learn he was the one and only Nelson. As I began speaking to him and his father, I learned Nelson’s whole given name is Nelson Mandela. When I asked his father why he chose the name Nelson Mandela for his son, he responded, “As soon as he was born, I knew he was going to be a great man.”
Nelson and his father have been patiently waiting for Operation Smile to return to Lubumbashi in order to receive surgery on his cleft palate. It is a truly special and humbling to experience firsthand the trust and confidence our patients place in us. Our team in Lubumbashi will never forget Nelson or the honor we felt to serve his family."
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