Mission restores hope for disfigured children | Inquirer Lifestyle
LAST year's patient, Joana Totanes, thanks ASK medical director Dr. Leigh Obed and founder Via Hoffmann

Mission restores hope for disfigured children

LAST year's patient, Joana Totanes, thanks ASK medical director Dr. Leigh Obed and founder Via Hoffmann

For 10 days, volunteer surgeons from Australia, New Zealand and Germany recently screened prospective patients and operated for five full days on 72 underprivileged children with cleft lips and palates during a medical mission dubbed Operation Restore Hope (ORH).

In a place like Caloocan City, where 37 percent of the population are living in poverty, children born with facial disfigurement and deformities would otherwise have remained untreated and permanently disadvantaged.

Via Marquez Hoffmann heads the Alay sa Kinabukasan Foundation Inc. (ASK Foundation) that does the recruitment and initial screening of prospective patients prior to the arrival of the foreign mission.

DOCTORS Tristan de Chalain of New Zealand and Dave Chamley of Australia get ready to operate on the first of their 72 patients at Diosdado Macapagal Memorial Center in Caloocan

Hoffmann, former model and film producer, now settled in Australia with her German husband Ulrich, had rallied their Filipino-Australian friends residing abroad to set up the ASK Foundation, which raises funding and logistical support with help from the Rotary Club Paranaque South East. Medical director Dr. Leigh Obed works on all the follow-ups on patients who have been operated on.

Success in transforming lives is what sustains the foundation’s partnership with the nonprofit, nongovernmental, nonsectarian charity based in New Zealand, Australia and Germany for 13 years now. The charity was conceived by renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Darryl Hodgkinson.

This year’s Operation Restore Hope was headed by specialists on plastic surgery, Dr. Tristan de Chalain from New Zealand and Dr. Christopher Wachsmuth from Germany, who, together with their medical teams of 27 volunteers from New Zealand, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom and the USA, donated their time and skills, pay their own accommodations and bring in operating room equipment and supplies which they leave behind for the public hospitals to use.