SANGEHI, Indonesia (June 2, 2012) - Two Indonesian children have received life-changing surgery thanks to the donated services of surgeons aboard the USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) hospital ship.
Bryan Mawuntu, a 12-year-old boy, received scar reparative surgery to reduce severe scarring on his hand and Shiva Alkatiri, a four-month-old girl, received cleft lip reparative surgery on June 2.
As part of Pacific Partnership 2012, these surgeries are among the first pediatric operations conducted aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy.
Julia Channell, a Latter Day Saints volunteer nurse in the pediatric ward, said that Bryan, a 12-year-old Indonesian boy, received reparative plastic surgery on his right hand, which had been badly burned by boiling water years ago.
As a result of Bryan’s injury the fingers of his hand were practically fused together due to heavy scarring after the burn.
As a result of the surgery Bryan is expected to be able to fully move his fingers again.
“It will take a couple weeks to a month to fully heal,” Channell said. “His hand will never be perfect, but it will be better and we expect that he will have a full range of motion again.”
Jenny Palit, Bryan’s grandmother, added that Bryan was teased and ridiculed before the surgery by his peers, because his hand was different and it became a challenge for his parents.
She said it is difficult to witness a young boy being bullied, simply because the other children didn’t know why his hand looked different.
“Bryan was being bullied because of his hand,” said Palit. “Now, because of the surgery, we are hoping that he will no longer be bullied and will be able to live a happy life like the other kids.
“I want to thank the doctors, nurses and everyone else for doing a wonderful job on my grandson’s hand.”
Channell stated that Bryan is a like every other fun-loving 12-year-old.
“It is refreshing to see that 12-year-olds are the same around the world,” Channell said.
“He is full of smiles and is doing very well. He has been playing games with us and teaching us along the way.”
Along with Bryan, four-month-old Shiva received surgery that could greatly improve her life.
Australian Army Capt. Kerry McKinnell, a nursing officer in the pediatrics post-operative ward aboard Mercy, said Shiva received cleft lip reparative surgery, which will allow the girl to eat better, without risk of aspiration or lung infection.
“The surgery was very successful,” McKinnell said. “Shiva is already eating better and is recovering wonderfully.”
McKinnell said the surgery should allow the baby to develop normally and live a normal life.
“She is expected to thrive after the surgery,” McKinnell said. “She should develop at a normal speed and her health and appearance will improve greatly.”
Nur Ain, mother of Shiva, stated that she is extremely happy with the surgery’s outcome.
“Shiva will be able to be like the other babies now,” said Ain. “This will help her eat better and look better for the rest of her life.”
Surgeons aboard Mercy are expected to treat many more children over the course of the first mission port in Indonesia, as well as the other host nations of Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.