March 2020 Mission to Bolivia

In Spanish, Operation Rainbow is “Arco Iris”, making this story especially touching.

2 year old Iris.

In Bolivia, the families hear several weeks in advance about Operation Rainbow’s upcoming mission via any number of ways: Paper flyers, internet, radio, religious networks and word of mouth. Over the years and in various countries our team of doctors and nurses have heard endless touching stories about how these brave families and children, many of them having little or no resources to get from their home base to our care.  These patients must get to the specific location for “pre-selection” (evaluation to see if they are a candidate for the surgeries being offered) followed by “selection” (re-evaluation and scheduling for the upcoming Operation Rainbow clinic) followed by attending the Sunday clinic the week of the mission and then actually being selected in clinic to have the proposed surgery during the following 4 chaotic days.

One of our patients, an incomparably gorgeous 2-year old named Iris, lives in a village about 15 miles away from the Hospital Bahia de Oriente in Santa Cruz, the Bolivian city of some 2 million where our Operation Rainbow mission is held.  Iris lives with her Mother and grandparents — a family existing in deep poverty.  Iris’ mom heard about Operation Rainbow’s impending visit, and about the daunting pre-selection, selection process to explore whether her daughter’s congenital right hip dysplasia could be helped or even possibly corrected by surgical intervention.  That arduous process deflated her deepest hopes that her daughter might be such a candidate, but even more daunting to her mom was the 2 Boliviano bus fare (around 30 US cents) required for the trip to Santa Cruz—the family did not have 2 Bolivianos to spare! Mom agonized about this predicament and finally borrowed the 2 Bolivianos and set off on the bus with Iris to travel to the CRE pre-selection gathering some weeks before the Operation Rainbow mission.

On that first bus ride, Iris’ mom found 900 Bolivanos (approx. $130) laying on the floor of the bus.  In deep shock and relief, her mom knew it would fund all potential aspects of her daughter’s attempts to get that dysplastic hip fixed, and Iris might have the chance to lead a physically normal and unrestricted childhood and life.

Iris was in fact selected for pre-selection and selection, seen amongst the 200+ children and families screened by the surgeons and anesthesiologists in the Sunday clinic, and then operated upon on Wednesday March 4th, 2020 for acetabular (“cup”) reconstruction, a pretty hefty pelvic surgery for a 2-year old. Her operative and immediate postoperative course went as smoothly as possible.
Many thanks to Iris and her mom for such a poignant reminder of what REALLY matters, and for providing all of us a view of a true living, talking, smiling, and now hopefully painlessly-walking Iris! Operacion Arco Iris!!