*Photo supplied
*Photo supplied

Two islanders swapped their Hamilton office block for a hospital of Mumbai to help children with facial disfigurements smile again.

Sherry Chadwick and Natalie Kershaw joined Operation Smile’s operation in India for 10 days last month to help mark the international charity’s 10th anniversary in the country

The pair, who work for Lancashire Insurance Co Ltd, spent most of their time caring for children that were just about to undergo surgery and comforting them after the procedure.

Ms Chadwick and Ms Kershaw travelled out to Ahmedabad from London on February 14 as part of a partnership between Lancashire and Operation Smile.

Ms Chadwick, an executive assistant at the firm, said: “It really was the most incredible experience to be a part of.

“We worked as non-medical volunteers but we did pretty much everything we could to help out around the hospital.

“At the end of each day we were totally exhausted.

“But to see the difference the operations made on the children themselves as well as their families was truly amazing.”

Ms Kershaw, the firms Chief Financial Officers, added: “Sherry and I followed a child each through the whole procedure – from screening through to the operation itself and post-op care.

“Observing the actual operation was fascinating and we both felt incredibly protective over ‘our’ children so the experience was incredibly moving.

“We helped entertain and calm the children through the one-and-a-half day screening process and also helped complete the paper medical records.” 

During their time in
India more than 70 patients were screened and 59
successful operations were carried out.

The hospital in India is just one of several bases for the international charity.

Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that heals children’s smiles, forever changing their lives.

Since 1982, Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers — has provided more than 3.5 million comprehensive patient evaluations and over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with facial deformities. 

Ms Kershaw added: “The five surgery days were long, with us being at the hospital from 7.30am to at least 7.30pm every day.

“Between 10-16 operations were carried out each day with two surgery tables in the surgery room.

“Sherry assisted with patient discharges and maintained all the paper records. I assisted with pre-op procedures and coordinated the patients through the surgical process.

“We all assisted with many other tasks as needed and it was good to feel that we were being such useful members of the team.

“Often just locating the patients was a less than an easy task.”