Fifteen-year-old Rashmi dreams of being a doctor. When Interplast last met the Sri Lankan schoolgirl, she was busy studying for her Ordinary-Level examinations, undertaken in the final two years of high school.  

Aiming to enrol in a biology stream for her higher studies, Rashmi’s goal was to become a doctor, and help others, as she has been helped over so many years.   

Born with a congenital facial dysmorphic condition, Rashmi is certainly no stranger to the medical profession. Since her early childhood, the brave schoolgirl has undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries performed by local surgeons in Sri Lanka.
 
Rashmi’s mother Ruhi was told by another patient of the work of the Interplast team at the National Hospital in the country’s capital, Colombo.
 
Dropping her two siblings off at school early, Rashmi travelled with her mother Ruhi for the two-hour round trip from Kalutara in Sri Lanka’s Western Province, where the family lives, to reach Colombo’s National Hospital and meet the Interplast team.
 
Led by Interplast volunteer surgeon Dr Charles Davis, with assistance from a local surgeon, Rashmi successfully underwent an eye socket and nasal reconstruction, the fourth procedure in her surgical journey. 
 
Ruhi was pleased with the significant improvement in her daughter’s condition, noting that Rashmi’s confidence and self-esteem had improved and that she was doing well at school. She was no longer subjected to any stigma or negative behaviour, nor made to feel different because of her condition.
 
Grateful for the opportunity for her daughter to undergo the surgery, Ruhi offered her blessings to the Interplast team, saying she hoped other people in her nation with similar conditions to Rashmi’s would have the same chance as her daughter.
 
Ruhi believes that awareness programs are critical to enable others living in peripheral areas like her family, to become aware of the opportunity Interplast could provide, thereby reaching more people in need. 
 
Following the surgery, Dr Davis recommended to the family that upon turning 18, Rashmi would need to undergo further surgery, something both she and her family welcomed. 
 
Rashmi is hoping that the Interplast team will soon return to complete her treatment, enabling her to fully focus on her academic pursuits, and to give back to others. 
 
Rotary donations have contributed to training Sri Lankan surgeons, so that patients like Rashmi can live a life free from disfigurement, and stigma.
Donations are especially welcome during the pandemic, and will help train surgeons remotely.
 
For more information please contact your Interplast District Chair, or Interplast Rotary Coordinator, Janette Etherington, at janette.etherington@interplast.org.au