“We were a team of 8 (2 surgeons, 2 anaesthetists, 2 Kenyan Nurses who joined us, 2 logistics people).  The purpose was different from previously.  Rather than just going and performing surgery on a large number as previously we went to begin a program of education for the local surgeons and anaesthetists.  Every procedure we did was a teaching case.  I led the surgical team and we arranged the program to show 3 local surgeons how to do a cleft lip expecting perhaps that by the end of 8 days they would do a simple case on their own.  I should not have been surprised about the immense surgical skill these surgeons have and how quickly they learned the steps needed.  BY 3 days they were performing 90-95% of every procedure with us surgical teachers simply holding instruments and saying “yes that’s perfect”!  We did 49 operations. 31 new lips from age 1 to age 35 years, some revisions of lips and then some surgery for burns patients who had tight bands restricting their movement.  The pride that was shared amongst us was great.  We have begun a project that is sustainable and I feel very upbeat about it.

All the pictures of before and after are being marked by the quality assurance team at Operation Smile. I think they will struggle to tell who did which case as they all looked really good!!  There were Blue Peter t-shirts there!! The next steps are to help build and equip a wing of a new hospital which is nearly physically built.  There is a charity called Aid to Hospitals Worldwide based in Bury that I have been to speak to who specialize in collecting discarded equipment from the NHS and reconditioning them for use (desks, computers, drip stands, anaesthetic equipment, diathermies etc).  


I am hoping that pretty quickly we can purchase the surgical instruments and headlamps that they need but I have to follow Operation Smile US lead on this as there are “Quality Assurance” protocols not to be breached!   It's very, very positive.  Per Hall, March 2012”


The main purpose of the trip was to try to formalise plans for the training of plastic and cleft surgeons for Jimma.  It is clear that we have to take some of their best general surgeon trainees and place them outside of Jimma and probably for 2 out of the 3 years outside of Ethiopia.  We are exploring all the options and will be having a major discussion about the next steps.

 We  have made enormous progress in setting up a 3 year training program for Ethiopian General Surgeons to become Plastic Surgeons with partners in India and Taiwan.  We operated on 22 cases, 8 lips all done by the residents with me training them (beautifully), 3 palates which I did and then some poor cases of nasty burns scars and a few cases with the Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons who work there from Switzerland including a poor boy after a crocodile bite (but he survives with all his limbs saved)  Per Hall, March 2014

“ I spent 2 weeks back in Jimma University Specialised Hospital, Ethiopia. This is part of a planned regular presence of Plastic and Cleft Surgeons visiting Jimma to keep the training program going and to inspire and select young Ethiopian surgeons to specialise in Plastic and Cleft Surgery.

I caught up with Dr Daniel and Dr Yonas. They are both experienced General Surgeons with whom I have worked over the last 2 years and, because of their passion to learn, we have set up a 3 year training program in Plastic and Cleft Surgery. From the end of May they will be living in Taiwan where they will spend 18 months learning all aspects of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery with a special emphasis on modern microsurgical reconstructive techniques. After that they will spend 6 months in Guwahati in Northern India at the Operation Smile Centre which last year performed 3000 cleft procedures be-fore returning to Ethiopia and the new hospital in Jimma which is tantalisingly close to being ready for work. We had a visit from a baby whom we had seen last March. The parents brought her back because I wanted to check her palate as she had a minor cleft palate (Submucous Cleft Palate) and I wanted to know if there was any noticeable problem with the speech as she might need an operation if that is the case. I was struck by how beautiful this little girl was and then got goose bumps when I realised that actually she had a repaired cleft lip which was so good I did not notice it until I was examining the palate! The goose bumps grew when I dug back through last years photos and found that Ruhama had done the Operation with Yonas helping her! I was pleased to get a photo of all of them together to celebrate that this is what its all about.” Per Hall, March 2015.


Mr Hall said: ‘I have chosen some of my favourite shots of the kids as we first encountered them at screening, some of the team and include one with Sarah my wife who came as an official "Patient Imaging Technician" or "PIT" as they termed it - basically she was a photographer recording the pre and post op surgery for quality assurance that we are doing a good job.

Perhaps my most moving picture is of the boy looking at his new lip in the mirror. He was 15 years old and lay still under local anaesthetic whilst I repaired his lip which had never been repaired. We gave him a mirror at the end and he just stared at himself transfixed. This shot summarises many emotions for me - a picture paints a thousand words’  Per Hall, Jimma, Ethiopia, December 2008

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