West Bank, Palestine

CleftORNovember 26 through December 5, 2010: The team of six providers from the States collaborated with three Palestinian surgeons for a busy week of surgical procedures in the West Bank. A brief interlude for the 4th Annual Conference of the Palestinian Cleft Society in Ramallah was followed by additional operations in Jenin, site of the Jenin Refugee Camp.  Dr. van Aalst's summary.

May 12-24, 2010: Eight team members, including Drs. John van Aalst and James Liau from UNC Plastic Surgery, traveled to the Palestinian city of Hebron. The majority of the trip was spent at Al Alia Hospital, the Government Hospital of Hebron, where 64 surgeries were performed. Most cases were cleft-related, but patients were also treated for ear and nasal abnormalities. In addition, Dr. van Aalst conducted several speaking engagements in Jericho and Beir Sabaa.  Full report.

November 12-24, 2009: Three physicians, two nurses, and a speech pathologist attended the 3rd Annual Conference of the Palestinian Cleft Society in Ramallah.  They then traveled to Tulkarm and Jericho, where they evaluated prospective surgical candidates and ultimately operated on 34 children.  Dr. van Aalst also visited the Al-Alia Government Hospital in Hebron to lay the ground work for a visit there in May of 2010. Read Dr. van Aast's full report.

June 18-30, 2009: Team members included Dr. Libby Wilson (plastic surgeon) and Tim Hatcher, CRNA, from Los Angeles, CA; and Dr. Austin Rose (ENT), Cindy van Aalst, RN, and Dr. John van Aalst (plastic surgeon) from UNC. Their initial event was a surgical conference on June 20 entitled "Operating on Children with Clefts: Safety and Aesthetics." Following the conference, the group split into two teams, with one traveling to Jericho and the other to Tulkarm. In total, 55 surgeries were performed on children with cleft lip and palate.

November 28 through December 7, 2008: Nine team members traveled to the West Bank city of Tulkarm. Team members included Dr. Ron Herring (anesthesiologist), Jean Davison Herring (family nurse practitioner, UNC School of Nursing), Robert Silvers (nurse anesthetist, UNC Dept. of Anesthesiology), Lynn Fox (speech and language pathologist, UNC School of Dentistry), Daniel King (audiologist, Duke University), Christine Beagle (feeding specialist, Duke University), Dr. Josh Demke (SUNY Upstate Univ. Dept. of Otolaryngology), and Dr. van Aalst (UNC Dept. of Plastic Surgery).

The team arrived on November 29th, and screened 120 patients Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon, and through the week, six team members stayed in Tulkarm and operated on 34 children with craniofacial anomalies. Three team members (Fox, Beagle, and King) traveled to multiple cities on the West Bank (Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron) to evaluate cleft patients with hearing, speech and feeding problems. They also gave lectures to physicians, nurses, audiologists and speech pathologists.

At the end of the week, the Palestinian Cleft Society conducted its second annual conference (.pdf) in Ramallah. The conference was entitled “Improving Speech Outcomes in Patients with Cleft Palate,” and drew nearly 100 participants, 38 of whom were speech pathologists. The conference was linked via the internet to audiences in Gaza City, Gaza and to Amman, Jordan.

Additional details on cleft and Palestinian aid efforts can be found at the Palestine Children's Relief Fund and The Smile Train.


Tulkarm Government Hospital

PCS Conference

Palestinian Cleft Society