On June 1 teams of surgeons left from Toronto, Ontario and Houston, Texas for Moscow and on to Ulyanovsk, Russia for the inaugural surgical mission to the Ulyanovsk Regional Paediatric Hospital. Ulyanovsk is a city of 600,000 people 900 km southeast of Moscow on the Volga River. Today it is an industrial city with aircraft and automobile manufacturing as its major industries. The surgical team consisted of Doctors Peter Adamson from Toronto, a facial plastic surgeon, the Chef de Mission, and Anthony Brissett from Baylor University Houston as Team Leader. Also contributing were Doctors Yinka Olutoye, a paediatric general surgeon, and Eric Jones, a paediatric urologic surgeon, from Baylor. From Toronto Dr. Janet Chung, a Chief Resident at the University of Toronto in head and neck surgery, and Mr. Ilya Shkarupin, interpreter and executive assistant, completed the team.
The team was met with warm hospitality at all times during their visit. This being the inaugural mission, it took one or two days for relationships to be established, but with the help of interpreters from the local language school collegial interaction was established quickly and smoothly.
108 consultations were seen on the first day of the mission, and 31 patients were operated on during the next three days. These included children with conditions such as: severe facial scars from removal of congenital lesions and burns; children requiring treatment for microtia, or absent ears; and cleft lip and palate patients requiring reconstructive rhinoplasties and perioral reconstructions. There were also congenital abdominal and urologic conditions treated. One day of the mission was set aside for panel discussions and lectures on the surgical procedures performed. A high level of enthusiasm and interaction was generated by all aspects of the mission.
A half-day of rest and relaxation was organized for members of both surgical teams at a local Russian spa where the traditional sauna with brush beating was enjoyed by all.
During the week meetings were had with the governor of the region, the Acting Minister of Health, and other hospital leaders to measure the achievements of the mission and to plan for future collaboration. It was agreed by all that the goals of the Face the Future Foundation, to treat one child at a time, to commit to future missions, and to educate local surgeons, were met. A large part of the success of the mission was due to the partnering of the Face the Future Foundation with the Tretiak Foundation from Moscow which supported all of the activities on the ground. Those who are ice hockey fans will remember Vladislav Tretiak who was the Russian goaltender during the 1972 Series, and subsequently a highly decorated world champion and Olympic athlete. He currently sits in the Russian parliament, or Duma, and is the representative for Ulyanovsk region. Working together we have already started planning for another mission, in 2014.