Our Deepest Condolences to Dr. Vincent Carrao 

Healing the Children Northeast is saddened to learn about the loss of 

Dr. Cheryl Lynn Carrao

who passed away suddenly on September 29th at the age of 51. 
Her husband, Vincent, was on his return from our medical trip
to Sucre Bolivia when he was notified.

Dr. Vincent Carrao is a long time member of HTCNE (since 1999) and has traveled on 23 missions led by Dr. Steven Roser.

Cheryl leaves behind her husband, Vincent, her son Thomas and her daughter Sara, as well as her parents, Billy and Joan Wafford. Cheryl also leaves behind her brother, William Wafford, her in-laws, Thomas and Lucille Carrao, and many cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces. 

Donations are being accepted in her memory
to support the work of Dr. Carrao’s traveling team. 




International Inbound Program update:

Back in our May newsletter we introduced you to Daniela,
a 12 year old girl from Santa Marta Colombia that our medical team discovered while working at the local hospital. 

 Through the help of several people, we were able to arrange to transport Daniela and her father to the U.S. through the
commitment of the N.I.H. who accepted her case.
We could not have done this
without the help of many along the way.

Instrumental was Dr. Cesar Arias from Houston TX
and his connections, Dr. Mihal Lionakis at the N.I.H., Roseanne Jean-Louis and her Avianca Airlines Representative to name a few.  

Since her arrival it was discovered that her diagnosis was not correct and the condition was genetically related.
Course of treatment has since been changed,
and Daniela has gone through some surgery,
but still has a long road ahead of her. 

 Photo of Daniela taken recently by her father at the N.I. H.
which shows this little girls spirit!  
Domestic Kids Program Update:
Over the summer we gave financial support to a new community project in New Milford CT.  This summer lunch bunch feeding program headed up by Camella’s Cupboard run by Angela Chastain.  The volunteers shopped, prepared and handed out daily lunches to the local children serving 6200 meals. We look forward to participate in this project next year.   
Medical Teams Abroad Program Update:

Team Support:    On October 29 th the Cartagena Colombia Team will host a fundraiser

Chefs for Clefts, A Night In Colombia

to be held in the Boston area.
This fundraiser will support their teams total expenses.

To learn more of this event

The fundraiser event will be from 5pm to Midnight at the
Tip Tap Room, 138 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114.  

Tickets in advance $80; at the door $100.

The event will feature Colombian inspired hors d’oeuvres,
open bar with beer, wine, cocktails, live auction featuring
diners for ten from some of Boston’s best chefs!  
Updates on services provided from our trips:

  • The Cartagena Colombia team  traveled Feb 7 – 17 2018 with Dr. Robert Gilman and Dr. William (Jay) Austen and Patrick Bullot as team administrator.  The team screened 162 and operated on 62 children.
  • The Ica Peru team traveled April 14 – 21 under the leadership of Dr. Evan Ransom and Dr. Joseph Rousso with Kathy McGovern and Carolyn Wendler as team administrators.  The group screened 125 and operated on 77 children while the speech team supplied 81 children with their services.  

Aurash Alemi, MD, Otolaryngology (ENT) from San Francisco CA area traveled to Ica Peru for the 3 rd time to perform cleft lip and palate surgery. This was a joint mission with Healing the Children Northeast and Healing the Children Northern California Chapters and our 5 th annual mission to this site. 

Dr. Alemi is a 5th year otolaryngology resident at UC San Francisco and is pursuing fellowship training in facial plastic & reconstructive surgery in New York City. 

On the first clinical day of every trip, the team screens roughly 120 pediatric patients who travel from all over the region (some up to 24 hours) for appropriate surgical candidates for primary and revision cleft lip & palate surgery. In years past we performed between 60-70 surgeries throughout the week. Additionally, our team of speech and language pathologists work with both post-operative and non-operative patients on various treatment strategies to improve speech and swallowing. 

The patients range from 4 weeks to roughly 21 years in age. A large percentage of patients come from the Amazonas region in northern Peru. These patients are extremely limited in access to healthcare and in many cases their visit with us is their first contact with a physician. 

As in years past, the team began their mission by being enthusiastically greeted by a waiting room full of families and their children, some of who traveled up to 48 hours to reach The Hospital Regional de Ica. With the assistance of pediatricians, speech and language pathologists, anesthesiologists, nursing staff and several local medical student volunteers, the team nearly matched last year’s record by screening 125 patients this year. From this group, the surgical team successfully completed 75 operations during the week – highlighted by 18 primary cleft lip repairs, 29 cleft palate repairs, 4 frenuloplasties, three cleft rhinoplasties, two first stage microtia repairs, and a second stage microtia repair on a follow up patient on whom the group had performed a primary repair the preceding year.

Additionally, with the addition of Dr. Scott Mosser’s expertise in general plastic surgery, the team also performed one syndactyly repair as well as release of a severe upper extremity scar contracture. Once again, the speech and language pathology group worked with a large group of previously-repaired patients, as well as children from the community with non-surgical speech and swallowing disorders.

Cleft lip and palate surgery is extremely fulfilling because of the immediacy of impact. After repair of the cleft, patients experience improvement in speech production and safe swallowing mechanics. Equally as important, they are relieved of the physical stigma of being born with a congenital facial deformity. 
Dr. Alemi states that he is extremely passionate about humanitarian outreach and these trips are invigorating and humbling.

The team is already gearing up for next year’s mission.

Statistics for this trip:

  • 125 children screened
  • 77 surgeries
  • 81 children serviced through our speech team
A young male patient immediately following first stage microtia repair using rib cartilage. 
A patient pictured following repair of cleft lip. Stuffed animals were donated by our organization
Dr. Sean Alemi (left) and Dr. Joseph Rousso (right) performing a first stage microtia operation using rib cartilage 
Dr. Sean Alemi (left) greeting a young patient with cleft lip and palate on screening day. 
A patient and his mother pictured after repair of his cleft palate. 
A patient who traveled over 24 hours from the Amazonas region for her cleft lip repair. She is pictured in a traditional hand woven garment. 
Ica, Peru April 13 th , 2018- April 22 nd , 2018
Submitted by Evelyn Marin – Speech Student

For many years, my dream was to attend a medical mission trip with Healing the Children Northeast. I was fortunate to learn about this fantastic organization that has changed the lives of thousands of children and their families. I became aware of this organization through my program director, Dr. Helen Buhler, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, who is an inspirational educator and mentor to many of us graduate students in the Communication Disorders Program.

During my time in Ica, Peru, I felt honored to be amongst so many kind, knowledgeable, and outstanding professionals who volunteered their time to help families and children with the utmost care and compassion. While in the Hospital Regional De Ica, the medical professionals took their time to make every moment a learning experience. They welcomed me into the OR, where I was able to witness such beautiful work surrounding me. In one end of the room, I observed an ear reconstruction with use of rib cartilage to treat microtia.

On the other end of the room I observed a cleft palate surgery where the physician took time to explain his thought process behind the surgery and the obstacles he might encounter while performing it. While these outstanding and well- regarded medical personnel surrounded me in the OR, I felt in awe of all of the training, dedication, and commitment that each team member exhibited.

As a graduate student, I was fortunate and truly grateful to work alongside my program director, Dr. Buhler, Lindsay Naylor  M.S., CCC-SLP,  an alumna from Mercy College, and my student colleague, Alicia Calkins. The knowledge acquired from each one of them is unfathomable. Working alongside professionals in the field that I have so long yearned to be apart of in Ica, Peru has solidified my role as a future speech-language pathologist. Although some families did not leave the hospital with surgery for cleft palate repairs, many of those families left with an obturator prosthesis with the help of Lindsay Naylor and the hospital orthodontist. 

I learned that it is important to create relationships with other professionals in order to assist in finding alternatives for many of these families. This experience was rewarding, educational, and impactful on my life. Being able to give back to the people of my country was a beautiful experience that I hope to one-day experience again. Thank you to Dr. Buhler, Lindsay Naylor, and HTCNE team that made this trip possible and unforgettable.  
  • Santa Marta Colombia Burn and Reconstructive Surgical team led by Dr. Gerald Edds and team administrator Steve Nargiso traveled May 5 – 12 screened 99 and operated on 58 children

  • Sucre Bolivia team led by Dr. Steven Roser with administrator Patrick Bullot traveled Sept 21 – 29.  The team screened 49 and operated on 28 children.  We plan to return to Sucre in 2019 and bring a dental team along as well. 

From speech student Roseanne Grateraux who joined this mission:

Dr. Shari Berkowitz, faculty member, and 2 nd year graduate student, Roseanne Grateraux, from our Communication Disorders program joined Healing The Children Northeast on a medical mission to Sucre, Bolivia this September. They joined surgeons, anesthesiologists, a pediatrician, a cardiologist, and nurses from different states who all came together to treat children with cleft lips and cleft palates. On this trip, Dr. Berkowitz and Ms. Grateraux provided assessment, counseling, and treatment to approximately 50 children of Sucre, Bolivia. They provided pre- and post-surgery speech pathology services to the children with cleft lips and palate who also presented with speech, language, and feeding/swallowing problems. In all, approximately thirty children had surgery to repair their cleft lip or cleft palate. 

Two teenagers, both fourteen years old and born with cleft palates, were able to get surgery for the first time. These children had never received any type of therapy and had lived their whole lives with communication, feeding, and swallowing difficulties. Another child with a cleft lip and palate, 1-month-old, was withdrawn from a feeding tube and given milk from a special bottle provided by the Speech Team for the first time.  This infant was too young and small for surgery, but the Speech Team worked with the parents on feeding and speech development strategies. The baby will receive surgery in January, when the team returns to Bolivia.

The Speech Team provided therapeutic intervention and counseling to all children and their families who came to speech clinic, including children with developmental delays, and collaborated with the onsite child learning center.

“Having this opportunity to serve children in so much need
and apply what I’ve learned in graduate school is truly priceless.”

said Ms. Grateraux. Dr. Berkowitz and Dr. Buhler, program director, have been traveling across the globe
with Healing the Children Northeast since 2011.  
  • Santa Marta Facial Plastics Cleft and Microtia team traveled Sept 29 -Oct 7 with Dr. Andrew Jacono and team administrator Kathy McGovern.  

Dr. David Fenner, a pediatrician who travels with this group sent in pictures of patient, Jon taken from most of the past 10 years.
Upcoming Medical trips schedule:

Our final trip in 2018: October 18 – 28 / Santo Antao, Cape Verde Islands / Dental team led by Dr. Robb Arbuckle

2019: Jan 1 – 7 / Mekelle Ethiopia / ENT – Facial Plastics Cleft team led by Dr. Manoj Abraham /  admin tbd – (we are seeking an experienced administrator for this trip)

2019: Jan 12 – 19 / Santa Cruz Bolivia  /Cleft team led by Dr. Steven Roser and Dental team led by Dr. Diane Ede-Nichols / Administrator Patrick Bullot

2019: Feb 6 – 16 / Cartagena Colombia  / Cleft team  led by Dr. Robert Gilman / Administrator Patrick Bullot 

2019: April 5 – 13 / Ica Peru / Facial Plastics Cleft team / led by Dr. Evan Ransom & Dr. Joseph Rousso / Administrators : Kathy McGovern & Carolyn Weidler

More information on these trips can be found on our website
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