Almost 15 years ago when Standish Foundation for Children was formed, I hoped that we would provide tangible support to hospitalized children and their families. So, it was very exciting for me and our team to see that Family Day 2024, an event supporting patients with microtia and their families, was a big success.

In hospitals, patients and families often form special bonds with each other. Those connections provide support and comfort to those on similar journeys. Patients with microtia, a congenital external ear deformity must wait until approximately 8 years old to have their first surgery. During that time, families may lack connection, support, and education, and children may be shunned and ridiculed.

To fill that gap, Family Day 2024 was hosted in Phon Penh, Cambodia. The event provided education and support to over 75 people and was co-hosted by Standish Foundation for Children, NorthWest Medical Volunteers, and our local host Smile Cambodia. Family Day 2024 was held the day prior to the 2024 surgical mission, led by Sam Most, MD.

In 2006, Craig Murakami, MD began annual medical missions working with Dr. Theavy Mok.
In 2017 NorthWest Medical Volunteers was formed and the annual surgical missions continue with Sam Most, M.D. as the team leader.

Families were welcomed by Smile Cambodia Board Directors Chan Kok Choy and Dr Nous Sarom. A special thank you to Chan Kok Choy and the team at Smile Cambodia for providing all the logistical support. The families were treated to one of the largest buffets in Phnom Penh!

This was the first time an event like this was hosted and it successfully provided a loving, safe, fun, and supportive environment for patients and families to gain education, support, and validation.

23 families attended and all those surveyed said they appreciated the event which gave them the opportunity to learn more about microtia and meet other families dealing with similar issues. Every family asked that we make this an annual event.

Families were happy to hear from Mai Thy Truong, M.D., one of the microtia surgeons on the team. Many families said that they learned a lot from Dr. Truong and felt much less anxious about the surgery.

My colleague BobbiJo Pansier set up a play area that included medical play and that was a big hit!

A few young people said they were scared for their surgery that week, but, after the event, felt confident and ready to have their surgery. Several parents and patients spoke in front of the group sharing about the challenges of living with microtia and the wonderful outcomes of their surgeries.

Patients and families felt valued, heard, and supported! It was wonderful to be a part of such a special event. It really was a magical day!

Thank you to our donors who made Family Day possible. This event brought so much joy to patients and families as well as all of us who were fortunate enough to be part of it. You are helping us reach 1 million children by 2025.

Andy Standish, Founder, Standish Foundation for Children