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Local Physician Leads Team of Volunteers to Operate on 100 Sudanese with Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate Nov. 1-11

by Madison V. Fisler

Oct. 30, 2013. From Nov. 1-11, seven physicians from around the nation will work together in Sudan to operate on cleft lip/palate patients who have had their quality of life worsened due to their condition. One of those physicians, Dr. Lance Plyler, is from our very own Boone North Carolina. 

The mission, which is run through the World Medical Mission of Samaritan’s Purse, aims to help 80-100 patients across southern Sudan to correct their cleft lip/palate and improve their quality of life. 

In Sudan, people with cleft lip/palate are faced with a stigma that accompanies their condition. They are often ostracized by their families and communities and are forced to lead a solitary lifestyle. During the past two years, the organization has performed cleft palate and lip surgery on 119 patients, according to Samaritan’s Purse.

“This will be the third time Samaritan’s Purse will send doctors to Southern Sudan to work on cleft lips, but the first time they will do surgeries for cleft palates,” said Alison Geist of Samaritan’s Purse. 

In total, there are seven doctors, one each from Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas and South Carolina and two physicians from North Carolina, including Plyler. 

“I am a physician and I had my own private practice for 15 years,” said Plyler, who now serves as Medical Advisor for Disaster Response for Samaritan’s Purse.

“As soon as I finished my residency fifteen years ago, I volunteered with World Medical Mission. Once a year they would send me on a volunteer assignment to a hospital around the world, and when the 2010 earthquake in Haiti occurred, I got really heavily involved. I knew that I would dedicate my career to medical missions.”

Sadly, a lot of the patients for this mission will be adults, so they have lived with the defect and the stigma that comes with it for their entire lives.

“In the third world these people are completely ostracized,” Plyler said. “A lot of Sudanese think that these people are cursed, so they are even rejected by their families. This is a life changing procedure for them, a chance of a lifetime.”

The team of physicians, including Plyler, three, surgeons, two ear, nose and throat surgeons and one plastic surgeon, could not complete their mission without the help of others.

“I want to give credit to two nurses: Beth Thompson on the State’s side and Karen Daniels in Southern Sudan. Really, they have done all of the logistical work to make this happen.”

A volunteer since 2007, Plyer is excited to help others who otherwise might not get the care that they need. 

For more information about this mission and others, click here.

Photo courtesy of Samaritan's Purse
Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse