Cleft Palate Surgery: A Memorable Transformation
Dr. Waldorf loves transformations, and helping each of her patients achieve a new look is one of her favorite parts of being a plastic surgeon. Although each case is special, some of them are more memorable than the rest. Here is the story of one of those extraordinary transformations.
Dr. Waldorf’s Trip to Vietnam
On a recent trip to Vietnam, Dr. Waldorf and several doctors from Project Vietnam Foundation were walking the corridors of Military Hospital 175. They were following up on patients during morning procedural rounds. As their checks came to an end, they ran into little Thi Dung Trang, a young girl with severe cleft palate. Unfortunately, the pre-screening process had already closed, and Thi Dung Trang and her family were turned away. They were preparing to return to their remote village many hours away without the surgery Thi Dung Trang needed.
This sweet young girl captured Dr. Waldorf’s heart when she peeked around a door and found her way to the group of doctors. She then wrapped her arms around Dr. Waldorf’s leg and gave her a big hug. Dr. Waldorf explains, “It is a moment where you feel like you were sent there at that moment as a guardian angel and that motherly feeling just embraces you. I just had to do it, she needed me.”
Dr. Waldorf took it upon herself to make sure this young girl received the needed surgery. She invited the family back the next day. During a 4.5-hour surgery, she reconstructed this young girl’s face and created the perfect appearance this girl had been waiting a lifetime for. Dr. Waldorf loved being able to fulfill this young girl’s dreams and give her the beautiful face she was meant to have.
Thi Dung Trang and her family didn’t speak traditional Vietnamese but, rather, a minority language that was not easily understood by anyone at the hospital. It was difficult to communicate with them, but we could definitely tell that Thi Dung was elated by the results of her surgery. She carried a picture of herself that she would often look at to give her strength.
Of all the surgeries completed on this recent trip, Thi Dung Trang’s is one of the most memorable for Dr. Waldorf. Plastic surgery can be so transformative and, even more than that, truly heartwarming.