Cleft Surgery at 10,000 Feet

Tarma, Peru – Dr. Carlos Navarro and his team at CIRPLAST have provided over 2,000 Smile Train surgeries in the last decade. As one of our longest serving partner surgeons, Dr. Navarro prides himself on providing cleft lip and palate surgeries not only nearby his hospital, but in the hardest to reach areas in Peru so that all of the children in his country can smile.

CIRPLAST Smile Train Team

A few years ago, after hearing of the desperate need of children in the city who do not have a cranio-facial surgeon of their own to turn to, Dr. Navarro and his staff traveled to Tarma to start offering their services free of charge. The team has traveled to Tarma numerous times to provide surgery and follow up care. Affectionately known as the Pearl of the Andes, Tarma is as breathtaking as it is unique. Nestled 10,000 feet above sea level, getting to Tarma is an adventure unto itself.

Road to TarmaThe central highways,  or Highway 20 as it is known, is really a very high road, because it goes up to 4818 meters at the highest crossing point on the central Andes Mountain range, before it starts going down on the other side of the slope. It goes through Oroya, where the American Doe Run mining company is working, and then divides into a road that goes to Jauja and Huancayo going south along the Mantaro River. The other road heads north and after a short stretch it divides into one going east to Trama, and eventually down to the Chanchamayo province, which is the so called jungle-eyebrow (ceja de selva), meaning that its geography is a mixture of mountains and jungle, with a climate that  is not quite as hot and humid as it is in the Amazon jungle, and is not quite as cold and dry as it is in the mountains; the other road goes northeast to Cerro de Pasco, a mining town. At 14,370 feet (4,650-4700m) elevation, it is one of the highest cities in Peru. It is a very steep and winding road all the way up to Ticlio, where it snows quite frequently all year around

– Dr. Navarro (Can you tell that he is also a retired professor?)

Recently, the team came back with many amazing tales of children and their families that they were able to help, but perhaps the most striking patient is Maria Hurtado. Maria was born with a cleft lip and for 70 long years, never knew it could even be corrected. Long ago, she had come to terms with never being seen as normal in her community and was almost hesitant to have it repaired as she had lived with it for so many years. With a little persistence, Dr. Navarro walked Maria into the OR and performed her surgery: imagine, waiting 70 years for a simple surgery. Over 25,550 days spent waiting for 1. Maria’s jubilation was seen as she participated in a local religious celebration even before her surgery was fully healed: you can be sure that for her, the celebration was even more meaningful as she was able to let go of 70 years of doubt, unwarranted shame, and even ostracization.Cleft Palate Surgery After Thank you to all of our partners and donors who provide so many new lives.

3 thoughts on “Cleft Surgery at 10,000 Feet

  1. Charlie is one of the finest cleft surgeon i have ever worked with and one of our finest Smile train partners.
    With Elvira at his side – how could he not be!

    Best wishes,

    Ian Jackson

  2. Pingback: Smile Train Update from Dr. Navarro in Peru « Smile Train Stories

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