My involvement in Interplast started in our first purchased home in Palo Alto on Starr King Circle, a three bedroom 2 bath Eichler. A perfect fit for us for three years and then things changed in 1967. Don went to Culiacan, Sinaloa. Our house opened to many house guests, 2 nurses stayed with us for a month, and we had our first patient. This all necessitated a conversion of the garage to a bedroom so that our visitors were given our bedroom.
Pancho Villa Velazqus was a 48 yr old male with an old ankle injury that was in need of surgery and a skin graft. He was a nice man, needed care after surgery because he was bed ridden. He was with us during Halloween and all of the trick or treaters would go down the hallway to Pancho’s bedroom. He wanted to see their costumes and give them the candy. He and our oldest son became friends. D2 would wait on him and help him. The language was a problem. I had a few Spanish classes at Foothill CC but not enough to converse like he wanted to do, plus I had 4 children to take care. He would get upset when I couldn’t understand him. I was always able to give my Spanish message, but then he would reply with conversation and it just took too much concentration while the kids were in the other room.
In the early 1970s Interplast determined that it was better to operate in the foreign country rather than transporting the patients to the US. This was arranged with the local surgical community and developed good rapport with an exchange of techniques.
The house was filled to capacity when Louise was born in August 1969. We built a house on the Stanford Campus with lots of room. Phil Collins brought up 6 children from Mexicali who needed surgery. They stayed with us until homes could be found. There was always a willing and able family. One 11yo boy was determined to stay with us and put his arms around Don’s neck and called him papa. He was burned while jumping through a tire that had burning rags in it. This was Jose Luis, a challenge for sure. His right arm was contracted to his side and needed to be released. I took him to San Mateo County Hospital in our son’s clothes. He had the surgery and was put in an airplane splint. When I brought him home, we drove into the garage and the phone was ringing. I ran to answer it returning shortly and there was Jose Luis riding D2’s bike with his airplane splint and his hospital gown wide open in the back. In changing his bandage it was obvious that the graft was rejected. Dr Hentz was not pleased. Jose needed to be more subdued. Again D2 helped, even emptying bedpans and being very kind in sharing his things. This all changed after Jose had healed.
Then Jose focused more in playing with and teasing the girls. We took him to Idaho with us, camping in the Wind River Mts. He was an interesting, fun loving, under privileged boy. I hope that his surgery and time with us served him well.
Another patient that stayed with us was Maria, a young girl in her 30s with a large tumor on her spinal column just above her buttocks. Joel Noe was the surgeon. Maria was a sweet girl always helping me. I don’t remember how long she stayed but after her surgery went home. Her prognosis was not good.
There was a 5yo girl who had an eye ripped out with some springing wire while her father was fixing something. She was having an eye made for her by Walter Spohn. She was a quiet girl but fit in with our girls. Our first day at the pool, I asked her if she could swim. She said “si” and walked down the stairs into the water and never came up. I had to jump in and pull her out.
An interesting challenge occurred right after the first group of children arrived at our house.
Our children all had to be treated for head lice. Our girls with their long hair had an especially hard time. I called our local pediatrician. He had never seen head lice and begged me to bring them in to observe. The treatment then was Quell shampoo and launder everything in sight. I’m afraid that Interplast introduced head lice to the PASD.