Sheridan pediatric anesthetist Richard Berlin, M.D. is the associate chief medical officer for Operation Smile, a humanitarian organization that delivers free surgical care to patients in more than 60 countries. Dr. Berlin’s most recent Operation Smile medical mission involved a trip to Managua, Nicaragua, where he and a team of physicians and nurses from around the world performed 93 surgeries to repair cleft lips and cleft palates in less than five days.
Cleft lips or palates are birth defects, gaps in the lips or the roof of the mouth that did not close during the mother’s pregnancy. Unless they are corrected, a cleft in the mouth can create serious health issues. Babies can experience feeding difficulties, which can lead to malnutrition or starvation. Ear infections can occur that can lead to hearing loss. Dental development can be affected, as can speech and language development. Additionally, those afflicted with cleft lips and palates often are bullied and suffer from social isolation and low self-esteem. The patients and other local children were delighted with the 200 teddy bears that Dr. Berlin brought for them.
Dr. Berlin has participated in more than 25 missions with Operation Smile so far. Last year he led Operation Smile’s inaugural obstetric fistula repair mission along with another Sheridan anesthesiologist, Dr. Jean Miles, and a Sheridan obstetrician, Dr. Julie Kang. And in March, Drs. Berlin and Miles led a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo to perform obstetrical fistula repair surgeries on women.
Below are several photos from the recent successful mission to Managua