NJ nurse Claire Donaghy travels world to make children smile

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Claire Donaghy is just as a lot at home in Central Africa as she is in New Jersey.

The William Paterson University nursing professor reported she’s observed a next home in Rwanda, a nation she initial frequented with Operation Smile in 2014. The 68-yr-previous is eager to return in either April or November.

“The country is beautiful and the men and women are wonderful. They are so welcoming and trying hard to educate their nurses to higher benchmarks,” she stated. “Which is not to say I will not likely go other spots.”

Staying element of a mission

Claire Donaghy, a 15-year volunteer with global charity Operation Smile, attended a Women in Medicine program in the Philippines in late 2022.

Because her to start with mission with an Procedure Smile surgical crew in 2007 took her to Egypt, Donaghy has been lending her skills all in excess of Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Twice a 12 months, on average, she tends to make a trip with dozens of other volunteers for a now 40-calendar year-aged nonprofit.

Procedure Smile, established in 1982, offers totally free surgery for little ones and youthful older people with cleft lips and palates. The worldwide charity is lively in much more than 60 international locations and has far more than 6,000 lively health care volunteers. With that massive health-related volunteer foundation, once-a-year surgical procedures surpass 12,000.

For the duration of each individual journey, or mission, Donaghy mentioned, volunteers can screen up to 350 candidates for surgical procedures. The missions can just take 11 times. Operations commonly span 5. It can appear chaotic at times, nevertheless it’s Donaghy’s endeavor to maintain any respectable turmoil to a least — even if that usually means making some shelving in a bare-bones Ethiopian medical center.

Claire Donaghy (center), an Operation Smile volunteer from New Jersey, has been a clinical coordinator for charity surgical teams for more than a decade.

“Several situations ailments are a lot less than optimal, and you have to set issues alongside one another,” she stated. “You thrive on the vitality of sufferers and volunteers.”

By means of 2022, Donaghy has been involved with about 30 Operation Smile missions, which include 1 on the U.S. Navy healthcare facility ship Ease and comfort. For more than two-thirds of them, she has served as a clinical coordinator. A single of 4 workforce leaders on a mission, the clinical coordinator oversees the scheduling and management of screenings, operations and surgical groups.

More and more, the volunteers she assists coordinate are nearby volunteers instead than worldwide kinds.

“The objective is self-sufficiency and secure surgical treatment,” Donaghy said. “It can be not a fly-by-night time procedure. They established up interactions to maintain a software.”

The Rwanda missions

Claire Donaghy

In Rwanda specially, the charity is working to present security to a nation with just two credentialed plastic surgeons and more than 13 million men and women. Donaghy has labored toward that target in her possess right, by training, mentoring and acquiring a curriculum at the College of Rwanda School of Nursing as aspect of a Fulbright scholarship program in 2014 and 2015.

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