When Dr. Bruce Ascough pulls up to a Red Cross hospital in Mexico, there usually are dozens of people with deformities and other ailments lined up to see him and other doctors, hoping they can change their lives for the better and emerge from a life of being treated like outcasts.
Ascough, a plastic surgeon at Verdugo Hills Hospital, has been going to Mexico for nearly 30 years, three times a year, volunteering to help repair cleft palates, cleft lips and other deformities in children and adults.
Working through Interface, a large medical volunteer team, Ascough and other doctors perform 60 to 80 surgeries over two days.
And his work truly changes lives.
He recalled one heart-warming moment following a surgery on a woman in her early 20s who had a cleft lip.
“The nurses gave her her first tube of lipstick in the recovery room,” he said.
While almost all parents of children born with deformities in Mexico stand by them unwaveringly, Ascough did treat a young boy whose mother abandoned him when she saw his cleft palate.