The ICSF team had just finished a long trip in the Philippine mountains on hired motorcycles in search of a postoperative ICSF patient. As the team members reached the paved road, they lamented that they had not found the little patient they had been looking for. As they began to enter the waiting car, they noticed a little girl standing among a small group of onlookers at the roadside store. Although she was not the patient the team was looking for, the girl easily caught the gaze of the team as she had a very abnormal and enlarged lower lip. The team delayed their plans to depart for the city and exited the car.
“What is your name?” questioned Dr. Williams. “Myra,” the girl answered. The team learned that Myra was 8 years old and had had the huge swelling of her lower lip from birth. Myra’s mother did not think anything could be done and had resigned herself to the fact that her daughter would always have the unsightly malformation. As Dr. Williams examined the lip he diagnosed the abnormality as a vascular malformation.
“Although these types of malformations can be dangerous to treat in a mission setting due to a risk of uncontrollable bleeding, the one thing that made Myra’s deformity very treatable was its location. The lower lip is an anatomic site where bleeding can be controlled very easily,” explained Dr. Williams. Photos were taken, and Myra and her mother were given the dates for the ICSF mission to Dipolog the following year. As the team drove away, both mother and daughter smiled broadly, a sign that they would indeed come the following year. (Of note, the patient who was not found was located the following day and sent to the ICSF team for evaluation. Examination revealed favorable healing.)
When the team arrived at the hospital in March of this year, sure enough, there was a smiling Myra, along with her mother, waiting in the clinic hallway. The surgery was performed the following week and went according to plan. Myra will need at least one more surgery and is already looking forward to ICSF’s mission to Dipolog next year.
A stroke of luck, you might ask? A little girl with a severely deformed lip just happened to be in the right time to cross paths with the right medical team, ICSF. We at ICSF think it was not luck but rather was meant to be.