The Faces of the Mission Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery is serving the world community.


The Journey of a Patient in our World Community


Nechama Bailarin Bailarin is a 12-year old boy from a rural part of Colombia.
Nechama’s people are indigenous. Although in recent years there have been many pressures on Nechama’s people, they live a simple life. The people have a great respect for the land they live on, which also supports the cultivation of crops for food. The remote location where they live meant Nechama did not have access to modern medical care or means of communication.


Nechama was born with a defect called a cleft palate, which is a deformity that happens before a baby is born. This condition affects speech and facial muscle control as well as other daily functions such as eating and breathing. Cleft palate repair must be corrected with surgery, preferably at a young age.


A year ago Nechama’s father was at the local open market. Through word of mouth he heard something amazing. A doctor was coming to the big city, Medellin, to help children like Nechama. He did not know until then that anything could be done about Nechama’s cleft palate. Soon after, Nechama and his father began their long journey to the big city.
It began with a full day’s walk to the main river, where they took a boat. They then boarded a transport truck for a long ride on dirt roads to the outskirts of Medellin, then a bus into the city. After several days they arrived at San Vicente de Paul Hospital.


San Vicente de Paul Hospital

Outside the hospital


In another part of the world, in San Francisco, Dr. Luque and his team had prepared for their trip to South America. Surgical and medical supplies were purchased, staff at the local hospital were contacted, surgery time was scheduled, and travel plans were made. This would be Dr. Luque’s third mission abroad in the past two years.


On December 5, 2010 Nechama, his father, and Dr. Luque meet for the first time at San Vicente de Paul Hospital. At the busy hospital the local staff helps prep Nechama for cleft palate repair surgery. By that afternoon, Dr. Luque checks on Nechama as he is recovering from his cleft palate repair surgery.

Surgery tag for Nechama


Dr. Luque with Nechama and his father

The surgery is a success in many ways. It affects not only Nechama’s eating, breathing, and speech, but also his self-image and view of his life. He is now a normal child free to experience the world the way children his age do.

Two communities thousands of miles apart were brought together on this trip so that over 40 children and adults could receive medical and oral surgeries very much needed in South America. It is the mission of Dr. Luque and the Faces of the Mission Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to continue making these journeys that are so impactful in our world community.

The Colombia and San Francisco teams outside the hospital

Nechama, his father, and Dr. Luque on a follow-up trip in May 2011