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A gift of a smile

From left, Manoj Abraham, M.D.; Augustine Moscatello, M.D.; patient's mother with child; Lianne de Serres, M.D.; John Bortz, M.D.; and anesthesiologist Mosses Bairamian, M.D.

From left, Manoj Abraham, M.D.; Augustine Moscatello, M.D.; patient's mother with child; Lianne de Serres, M.D.; John Bortz, M.D.; and anesthesiologist Mosses Bairamian, M.D.

Kids can be cruel when a playmate looks different with a cleft lip and palate, for example. Usually repaired by surgery in the U.S., these conditions go untreated more often in places like Peru. But recently, several Westchester Medical Center doctors went to that country as medical volunteers to address them.

Traveling under the sponsorship of a Milford, Connecticut, group called Healing the Children Northeast (www.htcne.org), they included Manoj T. Abraham, M.D., a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon; Augustine Moscatello, M.D., Chief of Otolaryngology; John Bortz, M.D., an oculoplastic surgeon (one who treats structures around the eye); Lianne M. de Serres, M.D., a pediatric otolaryngologist; and Mosses Bairamian, M.D., an anesthesiologist. With a team of about 20 nurses, other anesthesiologists and technicians, they did more than 40 operations‚ mostly cleft-lip-and-palate reconstructions‚ in three- and-a-half days in a small hospital in Lima.

"A transformative experience," reports Dr. Abraham. Of course, young faces were made to look more attractive, but he's talking about a transformation in the volunteers themselves.  "The first-timers are the most moved," he says.  "It's emotional, knowing that you're changing a life in such a significant way."

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