Thursday – October 31st: Thoughts from Armen, our Anethesiologist

October 31, 2013 § Leave a comment


Post by Armen Chalian


Armenians have the most beautiful eyes, expressive and innocent. These children have come from all over the country hoping to change their fate. Little Narine who’s hand and fingers were burned and transformed into a scared ball of flesh, now has an open hand with five fingers liberated from their scared down condition!

Armen G. Chalian, MD 10/29/2013


Every day I am energized by the dedication of the rest of the Plasticos Team. Even after 11 hrs of surgery I am not tired. How could I be? I feed off the energy of each and everyone around me and from the surgical results which have been remarkable to witness!

Armen G. Chalian MD

“Dr Armen as they call me here” 10/30/2013

Thank you Arabkir staff for working side by side with us. Professionally speaking, I enjoyed the exchange of ideas with Khatchik and Aghavni the staff anesthesiologist who are brilliant themselves. They perform miracles every day with their skill and knowledge with limited equipment compared to what I have at me disposal in the United States. I appreciated their dedication to the advancement of our anesthesia profession.

Armen G. Chalian MD 10/31/2013

I love my nurse anesthesia assistants. They try so hard to please and succeed in every way. Unfamiliar with such a system and used to working alone in the United States, I didn’t know how to utilize them until Gayane asked me if I trusted her. After that I realized that they do much more than stock the room with supplies. These young ladies work hard, take the bus to get here everyday, and return home to take care of their families. We salute them!….Dr. Tateosian and I now jokingly agree that anesthesiologists have it made here with all this great help.

Dr. Armen
( as I am called)



October 30: Jed’s Symphony!

October 31, 2013 § Leave a comment



Post by Susan Gertmenian


It’s only Jed’s 3rd day of teaching in Yerevan, and he’s already conducting his orchestra in perfect unison! Beneath the bright glow of 6 surgical lights with a small speaker crooning “I Won’t Go Home Without You…..” softly in the background, three young, skilled Armenian plastic surgeons and residents sway gently above a patient’s badly scared arms and face, simultaneously removing severe burn scars to restore mobility in seven-year-old Narek’s arms & mouth.



Calmly, Jed moves from resident to resident, coordinating their movements, guiding their surgical blades, helping them weave webs of sutures tugged from the eyes of tiny curved needles, smoke from the electric cautery machine drifting in the air. What a performance!

Rich blood, the fluid of life, drenches white surgical sponges, raw tissue gleaming like fresh pomegranate seeds beneath parted pink flesh. No, it’s not disgusting – only a step in the magical waltz of skilled surgeons, who scatter massive clumps of scar tissue to be replaced by perfectly stitched thin lines. Such masters!

Susi Gertmenian

Wednesday – October 30 A letter from Paul

October 31, 2013 § Leave a comment



Post by Paul Quintana

A Letter Home

Well, today is, well,not really sure, what day it is.  The trip here is noted elsewhere but twas long and tiresome.

Spent Sunday in clinic (screening patients).  See elsewhere on blog for details.  As a pediatrician, I examined all of the 100 kids.  Thank goodness the majority did not cry so I did not finish the day deaf.

I was impressed that all of the kids were well dressed, neat & clean.  They were well nourished and happy kids.  I found it interesting the large number of men who smoke in families outside of the USA.  As you know, they are endangering the health of the entire family and promoting similar smoking in their children.  The Armenians I spoke with all seem to accept my advice and criticism and I hope it will make a difference.

But back to the kids.  I subsequently saw the kids who had surgery again in the hospital. I would love to say I communicated very effectively with them and their family by pantomime but in truth, I had wonderful translators at my elbow the entire visit.

As my years advance, I find these routine 10 hour days and the occasional 13 hour day, tiresome.  I just want to put my feet up – all the bad parts fade when Tatevik (15 months old) and I became friends.  She was here for hand surgery to release her left hand and fingers from the severe burn that made it non-functional.  Well, she had a great result of her operation but was not happy.  When I went to see her, she turned to the wall after looking at me accusingly.  I wanted to plead my case and say “Hey, it wasn’t me.”   She wouldn’t listen.  Strange to say that a blue eyed cutie with a bandage on her left hand can both make and break your day.  Glad to say that tomorrow I’ll have another chance to remake a friend.

Enough for now, as I have started, as usual, to ramble.
Paul Quintana, MD

Tuesday – October 29th “I’m melting”

October 31, 2013 § 1 Comment

Post by Irene Landry


Every Plasticos trip involves its own challenges.  One is sterilization of supplies and instruments and each country seems to have a different system.

In the US, steam sterilization is the norm for metal, with instruments wrapped in special wrap, then autoclaved at high temperature with steam under pressure.   After the first day of surgery, we carefully wrapped our instrument sets in the special wrapping only to find the next day, that the wrapper and melted and hardened on the instruments!
We quickly put everything in water and began the arduous task of chipping away the plasticized material from each instrument.  Many of the Armenian nurses came into the instrument room to help us excavate the instruments off the trays, until finally we were able to re-sterilize them by other means and begin surgery.  We have had many strange things happen, but this was definitely was a first!


For this reason,we got a very late start to surgery, the first case didn’t go in until 10am. Normally our day finishes around 8pm but today the surgical teams operated until 10pm! 

Tuesday – October 29th Visit from Ambassador

October 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Post by Eileen Asahi



Today we were honored by the visit of the American Ambassador to Armenia, John A. Heffern. He came to show his support of the work we are doing, and to offer his heartfelt thanks and encouragement not only for the surgeries we are performing, but for the teaching and collaboration with the Armenian doctors and staff.

Armenian Baby Before and After Photos

October 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Armenian Baby Before and After - Plasticos Armenian Baby Before and After - Plasticos

Before and After photos of one of the first babies operated on in Armenia by Dr. Horowitz. The patient had a bilateral cleft lip repair.

Quick thoughts from screening day

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Post by Dennis Gertmenian

We have interviewed and examined over 100 children. All the children are very cute. But the children from the orphanages are very special. We have found that the orphanage caregivers are very loving and kind.

Our Team mates Bob and Ruth Ann Burns with a nun from the Mother Teresa Order in Armenia.

Where Am I?

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