Faces and Lives of 36 Guatemalan Children Changed at Hospitalito Atitlán During Surgical Jornada (Journey)

Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, April 25, 2012 - Forty three (43) Guatemalan children with cleft lips/palates are being evaluated and are receiving life-changing surgeries at Hospitalito Atitlán, a a small private nonprofit hospital serving 75,000 Maya on the southern shore of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. The surgical jornada (journey) is a joint effort of the Hospitalito, Smile Network International (SNI) and T.E.S.S. Unlimited.

"We are very excited to host this week of surgeries that will change the faces and futures of 30 children," said Juan Manuel Chuc, Ajanel, MD, Hospitalito Atitlán Medical Director. "We have been planning and working with Smile Network International and T.E.S.S. Unlimited for a year to make this jornada a reality."

The children come from the far reaches of Guatemala -Huehuetenengo, the Peten, Coban, Mazatenango, and the department of San Marcos - and arrived via chicken buses and boat. T.E.S.S. Unlimited located the patients, including six from the Lake Atitlán area. The SNI team includes a plastic surgeon, pediatrician, pediatric anesthesiologist, and nursing and support staff, who evaluated all the children before scheduling 36 surgeries.

Thanks to local support, the Hospitalito was able to find housing for all the families. The hotel Posada de Santiago provided accommodations for 16 patients and their families. Santiago Atitlán's new mayor, Tomas Chiviliu, rented every room of Pension Rosita for another 15 families. The rest are staying at the St. James Catholic Church and Las Milpas, houses managed by the Hospitalito. This is the second Smile Network International team to work at Hospitalito Atitilán. Previously, 28 Guatemalan children received surgeries in 2011.

Hospitalito Atitlán is a small private nonprofit hospital serving 75,000 Maya living on the southern shore of beautiful Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands. The hospital provides a full-range of preventive and clinical health services with an emphasis on women and children and has the only 24/7 emergency and surgical obstetrical care within a two-hour radius. http://www.hospitalitoatitlan.org/ Smile Network International is a Minnesota-based nonprofit that funds surgical missions and provides necessary supplies needed to repair birth defects, with a focus on cleft lips, cleft palates and other conditions requiring surgical intervention such as burns, tumors or other genetic defects. The surgeries are free of charge and are available to children who would otherwise go untreated. http://www.smilenetwork.org/Smile_Network/Home.html

T.E.S.S. Unlimited is a non-profit organization founded by Tessa de Goede de Ordonez in August 2008. It is based out of Antigua Guatemala, but works all over the country. T.E.S.S. matches children with a cleft lip and/or palate with doctors who can provide critical surgery to ensure the children have a healthy, fulfilling life. The surgery not only allows the child the ability to eat and drink functionally, but also helps prevent major infections. www.tessunlimited.nl