The Austin Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery team is proud to announce that one of our own skilled surgical technicians, Jill DeCabooter (pictured on right), recently participated in a medical mission trip to Guatemala! From November 2nd to the 11th, Jill worked with Austin Smiles, a local non-profit organization that provides reconstructive plastic surgery, mainly for cleft lip and palate repairs, to children in Central Texas and Latin America. With a team of skilled Surgeons, CRNAs, Anesthesiologists, RNs, and other Surgical Techs, the Austin Smiles group completed an impressive 62 surgeries in 4 days.
Wanting to participate in an Austin Smiles Mission Trip for a long time, Jill was ecstatic to learn that she had been accepted to join a team of skilled medical professionals and assist the reconstructive needs of underprivileged children in Guatemala City. Even more, she was overjoyed when she found out that Austin Oral Surgery would support her participation by helping to sponsor her trip.
Looking back on her experience, Jill remembers the many rewarding procedures she helped with, mainly bilateral and unilateral cleft lip, cleft palate, and rhinoplasty surgeries. Her favorite and most exciting procedure to perform was undoubtedly a special reconstructive surgery of the lip and cleft lip, called an Abbe flap procedure. But most of all, Jill will never forget the amazing children and families whose lives she touched. She remembers, “The biggest thing for me was seeing the love these families had for their children and the lengths they would go for them…There was no crying or whining. The children were so trusting and interacted wonderfully with us. Families, before even knowing if they qualified for surgery, waited as long as 10 hours before being seen, and every one of them were so unbelievably GRACIOUS and GRATEFUL.”
Austin Smiles blogger, John Paschal, describes a touching moment he captured between Austin Oral Surgery’s Jill DeCabooter and a one-year-old postoperative patient named Dante. “Scrub tech Jill DeCabooter, who on Sunday cradled Dante in the ENT screening room, enters room 2 and tells Pearl [the nurse] that she can take a break. Still dressed in scrubs from a just-concluded surgery, Jill takes the boy in her arms and sits on a chair. She settles him in her lap. Saliva is bubbling between his lips as he whimpers and cries. She runs her fingernails through his wispy hair, wipes the tears from his face. Watching, I reason that she and her OR3 team must have performed Dante’s surgery. ‘Oh, no,’ says Jill, shaking her head just as Dante stops crying. ‘I don’t know if I could have done that. I don’t know if I could have taken it. Sometimes the bond just gets crazy.’”
Helping Impoverished Populations
The poverty level in Guatemala is shocking– the majority of families live in small huts with dirt floors and makeshift tarp roofs. So it’s not hard to believe that there are hundreds of children in the region whose parents or guardians could never afford to pay for reconstructive surgery. This is where Austin Smiles and its many selfless volunteers like Jill step in; they truly change the lives of these impoverished children and families. With reconstructive surgery, the children are given a new confidence and an ability to feel like they ‘fit in’ with other children. The parents, on the other hand, can finally breath of sigh of relief–their worries are eased when their children are happy and healthy.
Austin Oral Surgery
On behalf of Austin Oral Surgery, we are so proud of our selfless surgical tech, Jill DeCabooter, and we look forward to sponsoring more of our teammates in the future. If you have any questions about Austin Smiles, and how you can help, check out their website or blog. As always, if you have any questions about the services we offer at Austin Oral Surgery, feel free to contact us by calling (512) 402-6677.