Andrew's life was in the balance ... - Interplast

Andrew’s life was in the balance …

You can make a difference for people like Andrew across the Asia Pacific. Donate NOW. 

When our Interplast volunteer surgical team met baby Andrew in Tonga earlier this year, his life was in the balance.

A severe cleft lip and palate meant that the seven-month-old could not feed properly.

“The milk goes in and comes straight back out,” said Anaesthetist Dr Lian Pfitzner.

Andrew was malnourished, and his immune system was terribly weak. He was dehydrated and had suffered repeated bouts of gastroenteritis, with multiple trips to intensive care fighting life-threatening infections.

Watch the powerful short video about Andrew’s story, or keep reading to find out more …

Andrew and his mother just before surgery.

“This poor little boy was underweight and fragile,” said surgeon Dr David Morgan.

Without immediate attention, Andrew may not have survived.

But his poor health meant he had also contracted conjunctivitis. The doctors explained to his mother that Andrew’s body didn’t have many reserves for wound healing.

Andrew was sent home for the weekend with a round of antibiotics. It was an anxious wait to see if he would be well enough for surgery.

“If he has his operation straightaway his lip will probably get infected and break down,” Dr Pfitzner said.

Donate now to ensure our teams can keep changing lives.


Andrew's mother with Dr David Morgan, wiping away tears of joy after Andrew's successful surgery.

Interplast teams have been visiting Tonga annually since 1984, providing surgery to people who need it, and teaching local medical staff the skills that allow them to help the Tongan people year-round.

On this latest trip, our team performed 36 life-changing operations – from young babies through to the elderly. It’s a small insight into the way our teams change futures year-round across the Asia Pacific, and it only happens with your support.

Thankfully, after the weekend Andrew returned well enough for a successful operation to repair his cleft lip.

Dr Pfitzner said the change was remarkable. Before the surgery, Andrew was a hungry, grizzly baby; afterwards he was content, sleepy and starting to feed better.

The impact on his mum was profound too. Before surgery she looked exhausted and anxious. Afterwards she was a different person – smiling, weeping tears of joy and looking more relaxed and well.

But this was only the start of Andrew’s journey back to full health.


Andrew after his surgery: content, sleepy and feeding better.

Our surgeons tell us that the lip and palate usually can’t be repaired at the same time – and particularly for a small, unwell baby such as Andrew. He needs time to grow and gain enough health and weight to cope with the next operation.

Our surgeons need to return to Tonga when Andrew is well enough to repair his palate, and then again when he is older and fully healthy to separate the fused digits on his hands.

Together we can ensure that Andrew and other children and adults receive the life-changing surgery that they need.

Please donate today.

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