In the morning, I visited Dr. John and he showed me how to make an obturator (a device that fills the cleft palate if the child can't receive surgery). I gave away all of our excess tooth brushes (over 700) to Dr. Luce, the dentist at the hospital. She was so appreciative and grateful. She hugged and kissed me. Later, we played with the kids and gave away our extra toys. Then we went into the Operating Room for Eduardo's surgery!! Yes, he was able to finally have surgery. In pre-op, I gave him this little teddy bear that had stitches on the lip. I comforted Eduardo's mom and told her that I was going to stay with him the whole time in surgery and everything will be ok. She gave me the hugest hug and squeezed me so tightly. I teared up a little. I can't get over the enormous love and devotion the Brazilian mothers and father have for their children. I even had the chance to take a photo with Eduardo, his mom and the teddy bear before surgery.
Then, if that wasn't enough, it was time to scrub in and observe Eduardo's entire surgery up close. And it was my little buddy's surgery - yeah! After surgery, I came out to tell his mom that it was over. When she saw me, her face lit up with anticipation. I told her it went perfectly and he's doing awesome and looks lindo maravihoso - beautiful! She jumped up and hugged me so tightly...bigger than the first hug..and we both started crying...tears of joy! I said my final good-bye to Eduardo's mom and told her she's a wonderful mother and he's going to be a great kid and have a bright future. She said she loved me from the bottom of her heart.
Words can't really describe these nine days in Fortaleza --- inspirational, transformational... I am deeply indebted to Operation Smile, the team of selfless healers from around the world - doctors, nurses and volunteers - and the gracious and joyful Brazilian families and children I came to know. I am forever changed. The girl that landed in Brazil nine days ago is not the same that is leaving the country tomorrow. Now, we have our wrap up party tonight. I don't want it to end. It's been pure magic!