By Noreen McGrath, Interplast Program Activities Coordinator for Asia

As I watch Remil tenderly comfort his little girl on the operating table, the importance of what Interplast does to change lives hits home.

In September I joined a volunteer surgical program to Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines for my first experience of Interplast’s work in action.

While I had the privilege of hearing the stories and seeing the clinical journey of many of our patients, Frullein had a particular impact on me.

Frullein is almost three years old, completely blind and has lost the use of both legs – and she was born with a cleft lip and palate. She was seen by another internationally-based medical mission when she was eleven months old, however, due to complications during the surgery her cleft lip and palate was not able to be repaired.

Her father Remil told me that when Frullein was diagnosed with complete blindness, he took time off work to assist his wife to take care of their child. During this time, his employer terminated his employment. Remil now assists his wife Beverley with the full-time care of Frullein.

I first saw Frullein as she lay peacefully in her mother’s arms in the corridor waiting for her consultation to begin, and she remained this way during the consultation. However, this is not the case when she enters the operating room on the day of her surgery.

Remil comes into the operating room and draws close to his daughter to comfort her as the anaesthetic kicks in. His warm smile and love for his child are deeply moving. I watch the Interplast surgeon repair Frullein’s cleft lip and palate and soon she is in the recovery room.