Three visiting U.S. surgeons wrapped up a week-long visit to Zimbabwe Friday having conducted reconstructive facial surgeries on more than 40 children.
The Zimbabwe project was the first in Africa for the surgeons of Operation Esperanza, which has mainly worked in Latin America, especially Ecuador. The organization was founded by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Joseph Clawson, who led the Harare team.
This week's operations built on a work record since 1987 of some 1,400 operations.
Dr. Clawson said he was led to schedule a facial reconstruction project in Zimbabwe due to a longtime friendship with Zimbabwean resident Norman Young.
The Esperanza team worked at Parirenyatwa Hospital in the capital and operated on a wide range of facial deformities ranging from cleft palates to severe burns. The U.S. team also taught reconstructive surgical techniques to Zimbabwean surgeons.
Clawson told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe he chose to concentrate on facial reconstructions because the healing is generally rapid so that patients are well into their recovery by the time his teams leave a host country.
Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti - himself the founder of the Community Medical Operations Service Trust, another nonprofit organization - said Harare welcomed the American effort as the country has lost many professionals through brain drain, while facial reconstruction operations are beyond the means of most Zimbabweans.