For almost 30 years, Verdugo Hills Hospital (VHH) plastic surgeon Dr. Bruce Ascough has traveled to La Piedad, Mexico three times a year with Interface, a large medical volunteer team. The group performs 60-80 operations in two days – mainly cleft palates, cleft lips and other deformities.
“Here in California, we rarely see patients with cleft palates who have no way of receiving medical attention,” said Dr. Ascough. “It is a huge benefit to the children in Mexico who are unable to get surgical care, and it gives us a chance to give something back.”
Cleft lips and palates are variations of a type of clefting congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. Cleft may cause problems with feeding, ear disease, speech and socialization
On his most recent trip, Dr. Ascough operated on a young boy whose mother abandoned him at birth after seeing his cleft palate. The boy’s father, a field worker, fed him with an eyedropper as they traveled over 10 hours to receive the surgery.
“The Mexican people are polite, gracious, and appreciative. When they have a child born with a physical defect, they accept it with a quiet dignity, and, of course, do whatever they can to get help for their children,” said Dr. Ascough. “It is extremely rewarding to be able to make a real difference in the lives of these families.”
Dr. Ascough has been with VHH since 1994. He received his medical education at the University of Kansas Medical Center and completed his training in Houston.