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TODAY news for Thursday, February 9, 2006

School of Medicine news

Operation Good Samaritan partners with Pat & Oscar’s to help children in Ethiopia with cleft lip and palate

Community members in line at Pat & Oscar�s
Community members inquire about Operation Good Samaritan while waiting in line at Pat & Oscar’s.
“It was like a Loma Linda party at Pat & Oscars,” says Linda D’Antonio, PhD, professor, School of Medicine, and director of Operation Good Samaritan.

On January 23, the LLU division of plastic surgery’s Operation Good Samaritan held a fundraiser at Pat & Oscar’s. With tons of LLU supporters, KOLA-FM (99.9) passing out gifts and prizes, and News Talk KTIE-AM (590) airing live promotions on site, it was a party. 

In March, a team of plastic surgeons, residents, anesthesiologists, and nurses will journey to Ethiopia to provide aesthetic surgeries, particulary cleft lip and palate operations, to children. It’s estimated that more than 360,000 people suffer from clefts in Africa today; most are children.

The goal—to raise $2,000 for the Ethiopia trip. The result—more than $3,000 has been raised and monetary gifts keep coming in.

“It was really moving to see we had so much support,” shares Dr. D’Antonio. “It really means a lot.”

According to Cherrie Heinrich, MD, LLU surgical resident, children with these malformations have difficulty eating, drinking, and speaking. But that’s not the only consequence.

“In Africa, children with these problems are ostracized,” explains Dr. Heinrich. “It’s considered the mark of the devil. They’re not accepted in the regular community.”

The team isn’t going to only fix cleft palates and/or cleft lips. “We teach the techniques to the doctors to carry this on,” says Allen Gabriel, MD, surgical resident at LLU. “They can affect many more people than we could ever expect to.”

According to Dr. D’Antonio, “Part of our mission is to inspire residents for a lifelong commitment of health, healing, and wholeness. What’s so cool about this fundraiser is that it was totally planned by our residents.”

Dr. Gabriel contacted more than 15 restaurants hoping one of them would consent to the fundraiser. “Pat & Oscar’s was the most receptive. They deserve a lot of credit for making it such a success.”

Initially, Pat & Oscar’s said it would hold the fundraiser like any other one—three hours during the day, and donate 20 percent of a meal when a customer brought in a flier. But plans changed as Dr. Gabriel talked more with Larry Rosen, general manager, and Scott Robertson, store manager.

“Both are phenomenal guys,” says Dr. Gabriel of both managers. “They helped us out so much by making it an all-day event and actually telling customers who came in about

the fundraiser—no flier was necessary.”

Mr. Robertson says, “It was a worthwhile cause, and I wanted to see them make some money. We’re happy that they got the turnout they did.”

“This event hit home to me,” shares Mr. Rosen. “My son has retinoblastoma and has a prosthetic eye. The fact that Operation Good Samaritan is going to Ethiopia to help children similar to my son’s case gives this more meaning. It’s a great cause.”

An average three-hour fundraising event at Pat & Oscar’s raises around $100. However, on January 23, the day of the Operation Good Samaritan fundraiser, the number of customers tripled compared to an average Monday and raised $1,600. Other donations have come in since then, bringing the total to about $3,100.

In fact, all the restaurant employees worked that day, and they still borrowed more staff from another Pat & Oscar’s in the area. They also gave out prizes—free dinners—to add to the festivities. General manager Mr. Rosen also contacted KTIE-AM (590), which helped promote the event.

He was planning a catering event for KTIE, and asked if they could jump on the bandwagon with this fundraiser.

“They were just as excited to get involved like we were,” he says.

 The radio station also plans to air a one-hour show featuring Operation Good Samaritan.

Operation Good Samaritan’s mission is to provide direct patient care in underserved regions of the world; to train local caregivers in those developing regions; and to inspire the medical residents to a lifelong commitment of international service to promote health, healing, and wholeness.

By Patricia Thio

TODAY news for Thursday, February 9, 2006