Dr. Robert Purdy transports his seven-year-old patient from the OR following surgery. Below

Photos capture stories of perseverance

South Surrey photographer joins doctors on mission to Cambodia

A South Surrey photographer is sharing his experience after spending nine days in Cambodia with a Vancouver-based non-profit medical organization.

Brian Giebelhaus – Peace Arch News’ main photographer for 22 years until 2011  – travelled to Phnom Penh with Operation Rainbow Canada last month to document plastic surgeons as they worked on dozens of patients with cleft lips, cleft palates and other deformities.

Through the group, medical teams travel to Third World countries and provide free reconstructive surgeries for children and adults who could otherwise not afford them.

Families came from all over Cambodia to receive the operations, Giebelhaus said.

“Any issues that they can deal with through the door, they handle,” he said, noting that there were a number of burn victims operated on at the clinic. “There is not much that they actually turn down.”

Giebelhaus heard about Operation Rainbow Canada through a colleague and approached the organization to assist as a photographer.

“The main goal for me was to document people as they came in, to do the before-and-after pictures,” he said. “It’s interesting because I don’t think anyone knew what I was going to end up with.”

It was the first time a professional photographer had captured the images of the men, women and children who receive the life-changing operations, he noted.

Over the nine days, more than 100 patients were operated on, including many children. Without the surgery, those children can be shunned, ostracized and even denied schooling.

Giebelhaus noted that one of the patients who came in with a double-cleft lip had been named Cleft by her parents.

“She has a disadvantage of having a cleft lip in the first place and all that comes with it for self-esteem and all that stuff right, and then they go ahead and name her Cleft as well,” he said.

Though each patient had a story – whether it was an infant or a woman in her 70s coming to have the operation – Giebelhaus recalled one patient in particular who made an impact on the staff and himself.

Sak Sambo, 14, came into the clinic covered in taut scars after he survived a gas explosion in his home when he was just four months old. He’d been unable to close his eyes since he was an infant, and his hand was pulled backward.

“This little guy, he’s 14 here… he grew up with all these injuries,” Giebelhaus said. “I almost burst into tears when I first saw him. How the hell did he get to that size? It blows your brain as to what these people can endure.”

The staff operated to cut the skin near his eyelids and added grafts in order for him to close his eyes, and they performed surgery on his hand.

Almost as unbelievable as his story was, Sak had persevered despite his injuries and took care of his younger siblings, Giebelhaus noted.

“I thought, as a former news photographer, there wasn’t much that was going to get me to choke up. But that was one who really got me going,” he said.

Operation Rainbow Canada’s missions cost between $50,000-80,000, with much of the funding coming from donations, fundraisers and government contributions.

Administrators and medical-team members are unpaid and provide their services on a volunteer basis.

For more information, visit www.operationrainbowcanada.com

 

 

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating after pedestrian struck and killed in Surrey

IIO investigating after male killed in crash shortly after being released from police custody

Surrey Mounties say 40 intoxicated teens found on ‘party bus’ in Newton

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Strawberry Hill

PHOTOS: Players putt their way to Las Vegas at Surrey MSOP tournament

Two-day regional qualifier held at Eaglequest Coyote Creek

Electric car-share company to bring 2,000 vehicles to Surrey/White Rock

SUMO is to launch next year with 150 vehicles, and increase to 2,000 by 2022

B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

Surrey councillor questions Vancouver businessman Bob Cheema’s involvement in official meeting

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Powder the muskets, zombies are coming!

Fort Langley National Historic Site offers up A Survivalist’s Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse, Sept. 28

Most Read

l -->