IRVINE, Calif. – It is a life-changing day for these patients. Anaheim resident Guadalupe Zamudio has been waiting over 30 years for the surgery she is about to undergo.
“I’m so glad to find these plastic surgeons, and I’m so happy to stay here. They’re going to do my surgery,” says Zamudio.
She is undergoing a breast reconstruction surgery she otherwise never would have been able to afford. Her doctor Karen Leong is volunteering her services for Mission Plasticos, a 20-year-old organization that is a part of their “Reshaping Lives California” program. The program provides plastic surgery to under or uninsured people that need the surgeries for medical reasons.
“They’ve waited a long time, they’ve gone through so many struggles to survive the trauma or the cancer or the congenital deformity that they were born with. And to be given this opportunity to change their perception of themselves or what they find h comfortable with themselves, that’s where the real reward begins,” says Dr. Leong.
Everything from this space in Irvine to the instruments are donated several times a year to make it possible for three to four patients per day to receive the services they need.
“So many years back then, but it’s still hard,” says Zamudio.
Post-surgery, at her home in Anaheim, Zamudio’s life story takes focus. She was just 22 years old when she found cysts in her breast that were too expensive to get removed in the U.S. As a result, she went to Mexico to get the surgery done.
What was supposed to be a simple surgery, became a case of malpractice. She woke up missing part of her breast.
Until a few months ago, when she saw an ad for Mission Plasticos in a magazine as she shopped for groceries, it was a pain she carried with her every day for the last 31 years, a pain she thought would never go away.
“To find this magazine and then call them and it’s like a light, a little light for me,” says Zamudio.
Over 90 percent of the worldwide need for surgeries is in developing countries, but as Zamudio can attest to, in the U.S., income and insurance are just as much a barrier as location of these services. She would have had to pay at least $20,000 to get this surgery done elsewhere.
“After all these years, it’s like a miracle. It’s a miracle,” Zamudio says.
Giving the gift of hope.