Testimonials: These are all copied and pasted directly from e-mails or letters received by me. The only changes made are the removal of names.
31 August 2012:
An email sent out by Jason Sive of First Health Finance. First Health Finance contribute a lot of money to operation smile and help create an awareness. Jason came along as a volunteer and a guest and these are his impressions of his visit which I think are worth reading:
As promised to many fellow funders, friends and colleagues of Operation Smile and First Health Finance, below is a summary of my week spent in Madagascar with a team of incredible medical and non-medical volunteers. All of whom give of themselves so generously, and ask nothing for it in return. The team comprised of 50 people, representing 13 countries, the majority being from South Africa. The group consisted of plastic surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, photographers, medical record experts, speech therapists, dentists and child carers, none of whom could carry out their functions without each other. Five Operating tables were set up in an old dilapidated government hospital, where nothing other than the operating tables and lights were used. Every other piece of medical equipment is flown in from SA. Unfortunately, no matter how I attempt to put the experience down in an email, words will not suffice. Nonetheless, here goes…
Day 1 and 2: Screening
Both these days comprised of screening hundreds of kids, with cleft palates, cleft lips, and a few with other facial deformities. Essentially “screening” means each kid (majority aged between 6 months and 6 years old) would be moved between various stations – surgeons, dental, nursing, photography etc. – and in turn, get prioritised based on a set of rules. This is a complicated process, as the team does not speak local Malagase, so translators are used. Hallways filled with hungry mothers and screaming children, make for a stressful work environment. The sight of so many kids requiring surgery was tough, but incomparable to the days to come.
Day 3: Selection
This day involved all children, with parents, arriving at the hospital, eagerly waiting in the parking lot to hear who has been selected for surgery, and who has to wait another year. The list is brought out, and the names are read, one by one. It’s pretty emotional for everyone in the vicinity. Everyone in the team knew this day would be a tough one, and to be honest, I assumed the joy from those selected, would compensate for the disappointment of those not. This was not the case. The faces of those doctors at day’s end, told a very clear story: no matter how much good would be done, it’s never without the pain of those who don’t make surgery list.
Day 4: OR Set Up
This day involved everyone setting up the pre-op rooms, post-op rooms, recovery rooms and operating rooms for the following day to come. Perhaps, given the severity of the task at hand, from this day, everything that happens, happens with military precision. Everyone knows their position and responsibility. The wheel turns, and things get done. Very simply – its organised chaos. We carried boxes, unpacked boxes, and helped where we could. As a first timer, I stood in awe, watching these magicians set up the show, in preparation for the magic that was about to unfold.
Day 5 – Day 9: Surgery Days
As was the case every day, we woke up at 6am, had breakfast at 6:30, and first team members arrived at 7am at hospital. Little time was spent getting into the swing of things, as all are fully aware, the quicker we get started, the more surgeries get done. By 9:30am – the first 5 kids were on the tables. While they on the tables, the second 5 kids are being entertained, and prepared for surgery. The tighter the schedule runs, the greater the probability of getting through more surgeries. Day 1 was successful, with 30 surgeries being performed. The doctors finished up at 10pm. I was tired, and I was not even operating. I was carrying boxes and managing children.
Day 2 was upon us, and I was asked to assist with 1 specific child, a 6-month-old boy (Zheeus), with both a cleft lip and cleft palate. Today was his day for cleft lip surgery. He was number 2 on the table for a prominent Cape Town plastic surgeon, Dirk Lazarus. I spent time in pre-op chatting to his mother via a translator. I suspect she thought I was the surgeon, but in any event, the more comfort provided to the parent, the better.
Once ready for surgery, and only after knowing me for an hour, she very bravely entrusted me with her 6-month old boy, and I carried him in my arms through to the OR. Once in the OR, I held him, much like I would hold my own son – until he was under. For whatever reason, to feel a child’s body collapse in one’s arms under general anaesthetic, is fairly hard hitting. Once he was under, I sat side by his side, with Dirk, watching for 45 minutes, while he changed this child’s life forever.
After all stitches were in, we carried Zheeus to recovery, where he would slowly wake up. I then went to call his mother. Notwithstanding the emotions of watching surgery, handing him back to his mother, was something else. I don’t think she could prepare herself for seeing her child, now with a normal face. Incredible to say the least. After dealing with Zheeus, Dirk went back into theatre, and got ready for another 4 kids. After 5 days of surgery, 130 kids had been operated on. All in 1 week.
I left Madagascar feeling extremely humbled, knowing that whatever I do going forward, I cannot change lives in the same way that these people do. I am limited but to raising funds, so the magicians can continue performing their magic. Thank you to those who gave so generously at the Op Smile function earlier this year, the miracles performed last week in Madagascar, were partly due to your generosity. Through continued support, more missions will take place, and Zheeus will hopefully receive his palate surgery in 12 months’ time.
31 August 2012
Just have to share this..... today I walked through the foyer of our compny and an oldish German lady who passed through took my arm, looked at me and said in english :' So elegant, so chic". Anneli, it was NOT my clothes or hair or even my eye-lift, it was the confidence I exuded because I felt good about myself for the first time in many years. Kiss Dirk for me and tell him how wonderful it made me feel.
love you lots , my friend..
2 August 2012
Today is my first day back at work and also the first day I put make up on after the operation. I got soooo many compliments! I am so happy with the results. Please thank Dirk for me again. I love my eyes.
22 June 2012
Email testimonial sent to Anneli from a patient on whom I performed a facial rejuvenation early this year:
Can you please tell Dirk that I saw yesterday the Vienna plastic surgeon with whom I filmed in Kenya. He said, that I look good and that the surgery was done very well. One compliment to Dirk from one of the famous Viennese surgeon to his colleague in Cape Town.
23 March 2012
SAAHSP SEMINARS CAPE TOWN MARCH 2012
Dear Dr Lazarus
We at SAAHSP wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful and warm keynote presentation that contributed to the success of our seminars. Once again you greatly educated our young students on plastic surgery. We really appreciated your willingness to always assist us with our talks.
SAAHSP – CIDESCO Section S.A
My breast reduction experience with Dr. Dirk Lazarus and his wonderful staff.
I would like to share the whole experience I had in order to enlighten other women out there who are considering this surgery.
Being new to plastic surgery, I found it very daunting to make an appointment for a consultation and take the plunge. I suffered from uneven, large breasts with axillary breast tissue under my arms. Please note the past tense :) For years I have been unable to wear summer dresses or any clothing that reveals armpits. I was so self conscience that I wouldn't even undress at gym. I finally had enough and decided to start looking for the plastic surgeon that would suit my needs.
I found Dr. Lazarus's website whilst doing a Google search for Cape Town based plastic surgeons. My first consultation revealed a quirky, down to earth doctor with a sense of humour and a love for Hawaiian looking shirts . I liked him immediately. He explained the whole procedure, took photos (which made me cringe) and used eyeliner to draw where incisions will be made. He was going to do a breast reduction/ lift and liposuction my extra breasts under my arms, as I like to call them, out.
Fast forward to the day of the surgery. Dr. Lazarus has a licensed day clinic adjacent to his practice. I arrived at 7:00 in the morning to find the most caring nurse waiting for me. She showed me to my bed and said I had nothing to worry about. I was so relaxed that I even got a little bit of reading done :)
At 8:00 doctor arrived, marked me for surgery and then I was given my premeds. I met the anesthesiologist and then was taken to the operating room. That is exactly where my memory stops. I woke up in my bed at about 12:30 with no pain at all. I was a bit groggy and the nurse brought me some Energade to drink. I had a drip and the TV remote control. I was happy.
I was discharged at 15:30 with awesome pain meds and wearing a special post op bra. Everything is nicely taped up so I can't even see the incisions. It is now day 2 post op and I must honestly say that the pain has been minimal. I am going back tomorrow so that doctor can have a look at me. Everything is a bit swollen and bruised but I can already see my new breasts are smaller and perky :) I love them!
First, let me thank you for everything you've done for me. As you know, I had been dissatisfied with my appearance for most of my adult life. My 'thick neck' and lack of a jaw line bothered me to no end. It was only circumstances that brought me to your practice ( working in Zambia, etc). I am so pleased with the result and can't wait for friends and family to see the 'new me' when I eventually return home to the UK. I fully appreciated the result upon my returned to Zambia when my work colleagues commented that I looked so refreshed. They asked....'had I lost weight or something' ? (they were not aware that I had lipo, etc).
I really enjoyed staying at the Coach House. It was very comfortable, private, and it minimised the fear and embarrassment that is often associated with procedures of this nature. Furthermore, Annelli was an excellent host. She made me feel comfortable and I knew that if I needed anything she would be there to help.
I was so impressed with Cape Town. It reminded me of San Diego California where I grew up and also of Mijas Spain where we have a holiday home. In fact, should you and your family ever want to spend a holiday in the Costa Del Sol, we have a lovely 200 year old villa (modernised) that overlooks the sea...
Hi Dr. Lazarus, This email comes late as I have purposed to do this since the beginning of the year. My name is Evelyn **********. I came to you in January 2009 to have reconstructive surgery for a scar on my face. For many people it did not seem a big deal but somehow, I had failed to accept as I could not even look at my face because of it. You did an excellent job. With the limitations you explained to me, the scar has now healed with a year of plaster/ tape. I still see where the scar originally was but it is now almost unnoticeable that I hardly take notice of it. I now go about confidently, never hiding my face with my hand as I used to do in the past. You will never know how truly grateful I am. I will always have fond memories of Cape Town. Thank you so much. Please extend my thanks to your team also. God bless you,
Dear Dr. Lazarus, I am writing to inform you that i was very happy about the services of eye filler you gave me. Although the left eye was swollen for some time, the results were superb. My eye area looks fresh and younger and i do commend you for the good work well done. Please keep it because you are one surgeon that gave me the results i desired for the first time. I hope the remainder of my eye fillers are still kept safely and when i return to CPT in September i will come for a follow up session. Otherwise, you are very much appreciated. Rosette from Uganda