2016 Cambodia Mission – from February 17 to 25

The 2016 Cambodia Mission will be held at the Preah Ketmelea (PKM) Hospital in Phnom Penh,Cambodia.  This mission is to support the PKM Hospital and the University of Health Sciences in their first Plastics Residency Program.  The ORC will focus on teaching local Plastics Residents in surgical techniques for cleft lip and palate surgery.

Our team will depart YVR on February 17.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Reflection on the Mission from a Medical Resident

From Dr. Jolene Low, Family + ER Medicine Resident from University of Toronto based out of North York General Hospital and Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital

IMG_0821 IMG_0820

India.. Wow! Back to the reality of life..

It was a great mission, great team, and a very generous host, Dr. Champaneria, along with his family and staff. I almost did not want to leave to go back to Toronto! We had so much to see and learn as residents.

Pathology during screening days were endless.

Not to mention the excitement we get when we realized what the syndrome was! It was good to see for ourselves rare pathology that we read about in textbooks, are no mere pictures but first-hand experience through our patients in Hansot.

The best part for me about being in pediatric screening was, the opportunity to lay hands on every child that walked into Kaka-Ba Hospital for the mission.

There were many a times getting surgery was the least of the patient’s problems amongst their other larger health issues. For example, our 5 year old girl weighing only 7.8kg who came into the room carried in the arms of her mother. The girl looked pale as paper, legs the size of twigs but with edematous feet, tachypnic, appearing to be in heart failure. She had a medium size posterior cleft palate, but this was least of her problem. She had a ginormous heart silhouette that occupied 90% of the chest x-ray and a hemoglobin of 28. She was definitely not a candidate for surgery.  I was glad that even though surgery was not an option for her, we were able to arrange for a transfer to a larger center for more intensive pediatric care.

Being in screening also meant I was able to see even the non-surgical consults such as cerebral palsy, developmental and speech/language issues etc.

More importantly, I learned the differences between resources that may be readily available to us in Canada and how to adapt and utilize local resources in a different setting.

I was able to appreciate the cultural differences, know their stories and see our patients as a family unit not just as an individual. Over the 2 weeks in Hansot, I’ve bonded and made friendships with our little patients and their families. There were even several difficult good byes especially when Krisha’s dad and mom said something that really warmed my heart: “You miss Krisha. Krisha miss you too.”

I cannot describe how invaluable these experiences were for me as a resident and an individual. Thank you ORC for having me!”



Thanks to our Combined Teams

Last Day of 2015 Mission – Lots of hugs, laughter, and tears.  Farewell to our colleagues and friends at Kaka-Ba.  See you next year!

Many thanks to Randy Mennie’s Member of Parliament, Fin Donelly for providing us with the large Canadian Flag and several hundred Canadian flag pins that we gave out as a small token of appreciation to our new friends.  Last Day Group Photo

Mission Day 14_December 1_Last Day of Surgery

From Dr. Rai:

It is 8 pm.  The team has completed 10 days of surgery.  The last couple of days were quite intense as 42 new patients showed up after the media coverage.  The team had pushed hard to perform as many surgeries as we can before we go.  Dr. Champenaria gave us an extra operating room.  I think we are at approximately 100 but will wait for Doreen to give the final tally.  No post surgical complications.  Splints on Bear education was quite successful.  Only had to redo 2 cases due to child scratching off stitches.  Team is exhausted but exhilarated.

Tomorrow is Clinic Day. This is the day when all the patients come back for a check-up. There is usually lots of laughter mixed with tears. The team get quite emotional because they see tangible results of we have collectively achieved.  All of us get quite attached to the kids – how can we not? But it will be time to pack up and say good-bye to our new friends.  Until next year.  Stayed tuned for photos of Clinic Day.  Wifi still very very slowlRai and Champenaria



Team Member Profile_India 2015 – Dr. Gayatri Sasikumar


Dr. Gayatri Sasikumar, Anaesthesiologist, All India Institute of Medical Sciences
Dr. Gayatri Sasikumar, Anaesthesiologist, All India Institute of Medical Sciences

Hello, My name is Gayatri.

I work as an Anaesthesiologist at the Regional Cancer centre at Trivandrum in Kerala (one of the many states in India). In 2013-2014, I was fortunate to obtain a fellowship in Pediatric anesthesia at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and so have worked with Dr. Montgomery and team. I have many fond memories of Vancouver and I am looking forward to meeting my friends and colleagues from BCCH again.
This is my first mission with ORC, though I was to be part of the team coming to Rajasthan in 2014 February but that mission has been deferred. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with  Dr. Champaneria and his wonderful team of doctors who are doing very impressive work in rural Gujarat.

I hope this is the first of my many ORC experiences and I am hoping to be a useful link between the Indian and Canadian team. Unfortunately, I will be part of the mission only for a week since I have a few obligations that came up suddenly in the family. This just mean that I will have to make the most of out of my time with ORC. After all, as a young doctor, I am well-versed in the “sleep in optional” way of life.

Team Member Profile_India 2015 – Dr. Hanif Ukani

Hanif Ukani_SmilingHello. I’m Hanif. This is my third mission with ORC. My interest in cleft lip and palate, and humanitarian work started in medical school when I was fortunate enough to participate in a plastic surgery mission in the Philippines. This experience motivated my career path, to become a plastic surgeon.

I am currently head of plastic surgery at Royal Columbian and Eagle Ridge Hospitals in Greater Vancouver. I also operate at False Creek Surgical Centre.

Now, fifteen years later, I feel very fortunate to be a member of ORC and to give something back to the global community. I feel especially grateful to Dr. Rai and Dr. Bhanji for their mentorship, and to Dr. Chitte my dear colleague.

This mission to India has a special place in my heart. My great grandmother was born in India, about 8 hours drive from our current site. And it is has been very exciting for me to treat the kids and adults here that we have seen here. We are now midway through our mission, and I’m happy, I feel we’re making a positive difference.

I am very thankful to my wife and children for their support. Although spending this time away from home is difficult, they have been so very supportive of this endeavor.

Poem “Flowing Smile” by Dr. Julie Kvann

Dr. Julie Kvann_Profile photo

Plastic surgery combines the aesthetic of the human body with science and medicine.  The best surgeons in facial surgery must have sensitivity and a glimpse into a person’s soul in order to bring about the best features that represent their true self.  Many of the surgeons have artistic pursuits outside of medicine.

Dr. Julie Kvann is a Plastics Resident who was selected by the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons in a very competitive process to study with Dr. Rai on this mission.  Originally from Cambodia, she now resides in Montreal and is a Resident 4th year at McGill University.

At Kaka-Ba Hospital, Dr. Kvann has composed quite a few poems about the patients that she treated.  Although she is proficient in at least 3 languages, she is very humble and often apologizes for her English.   We think her poems are beautiful and evocative.  Here’s one we would like to share with you called “Flowing Smile”.

Flowing Smile

A space between two lips

Lips entrouverte

Lips introspected

Secrets to be told

Lips ajar

Split apart






Distorted realities

Go figure

Mix configuration



Pull apart

Put together

Outside in

Inside out

Mix and separated beyond words

Beyond worlds

A space to fill up

A gap to bridge

A bridge to cross

Stories to be told




Water flowed and filled up her mouth

Fills up her eyes

And there,

For the first time since she was born,


Day 11_Nov 25_Surgery Day 7

Patient with bear in splints


From Mary Spencer, Operating Room Nurse:

Because bears go through surgery too, and they need splints just like me! This little fellow loved that his bear had splints, and told us that neither he, nor the bear had any pain.