“Buhle” (you’re beautiful)
Monday, 01 September 2008
I was standing in the corner of the operating theatre , sparkling new equipment filled the room, with wiring and piping leading to the nerve centre of each operating station. In front of me were the 2 operating tables, each covered with a green sheet, a solitary bright light shone onto the table where the breathing mask lay. Theatre staff from the 2 medical teams was quiet and focused going over last minute check lists. Deep down I felt really nervous about what I was going to be seeing, unsure but I really wanted to be part of this I had over the past day developed such a bond with certain of the children and their parents, it was also such a privilege to be able experience how the surgery is done.
The theatre door swung open and in walked this tiny figure, dressed in a teddy theatre gown, her little arm extended up, holding onto the anaesthetists hand. So confident and brave, I looked at that little face and my heart just went out to her. Her beautiful big eyes just stared ahead as she quietly walked over to the table and climbed on. A loving arm was put around her as the mask was placed over her mouth, she looked up and slowly she rolled her eyes back and sunk away into her induced sleep, her dream was now to begin.
I will never for get the next few moments as Anil Madaree the surgeon sat behind her head looking down at the tiny little face, placing his hands on each side and slowly moving then inward, feeling her tiny twisted little lips with his fingers. He then began planning the procedure, softly marking where he would work. Totally focused in silence he began the reconstruction process, occasionally asking for instruments and explaining what he was doing to his assistant. In the background I could hear the ping-ping of the heart rate monitor, the drone of the suction pump and the rhythmic inflation of the breathing bag heave and deflate next to this tiny figure draped with the tentacles from the equipment. An hour had passed, the theatre staff were still gliding to and fro, checking and re checking, passing sutures and medication as Anil continued to work.
Finally the deep intricate work was complete and slowly stitch after stitch with absolute calm these magical hands floated endlessly weaving back and forth, the instruments seemed to be part of them. As I looked down this most beautiful angelic little face was now peering through the blue head cover. I saw the forcipes move up towards the light with a majestic curve and a with a soft tug on the suture the last stitch pulled tight joining the upper lip, the other hand effortlessly moved across and cut the last stitch. Moving his seat back Anil thanked the team and sat looking at the beauty that he had unleashed in this child.
There is a certain bound that one can only explain when your child is born; I think today I experienced something similar. This little girl’s mother was called into the post op room to see her daughter. As she walked in the nurse sat her down and Bruce the post-op doctor handed her her daughter, she looked at this little sleeping beauty, the tears just streamed down her face as she hugged her child and said- “Buhle” meaning you’re beautiful.
“Operation Smile, the songs of joy will echo through the valleys of Mount Frere,so will the tears of joy will flow in the ravines for years to come, a nation thanks you “