Rockin’ Ears to Reconstruct Them

lend-an-earWhen you think of a medical instrument, you usually think of a scalpel or forceps. But nine employees of the Medical Center are also proficient in instruments of a musical nature, and are putting those side talents to use for a good cause this weekend.

For the last 11 years, plastic surgeon David Song has led a team of University of Chicago Medical Center employees to the Dominican Republic for two weeks of charity care. Working with Medical Aid for Children in Latin America (MACLA), the team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and residents focuses on ear reconstruction, cleft palate surgery, and burn treatment for disfigured residents of Hispaniola (including Haitians and Dominicans) who might otherwise face a life of discrimination and pain.

“A lot of children in the Dominican Republic are born without ears, and they’re ostracized from the community,” said Song, professor and vice chairman of surgery. “Shamanism and voodoo are still practiced in some of these villages near the Haitian border, and a lot of these villagers feel that these children with congenital deformities are really possessed by a demon. They see us as exorcists, when simply it’s reconstructive surgery, and we’re able to reintegrate them back into the village and have them be accepted by their families as normal human beings. That’s really touching for us.”

This Saturday’s “Lend an Ear” fundraiser (pdf), to be held at the International House on the University of Chicago campus, will feature a different type of philanthropy: the debut of the Medical Center band Turnover Time. Named for the medical jargon of the time between procedures in the operating room, the nine members of Turnover Time include surgeons, anesthesiologists, techs, medical students, and residents with serious musical chops. In the video below, you can watch them rehearsing some of the songs from their Saturday setlist, including Coldplay’s “Clocks,” the gospel tune “Oh Happy Day,” and Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel from Montgomery.”

“I knew they were talented, but they blew me away,” Song said of viewing of a Turnover Time rehearsal earlier this month. “It’s an expressive way for them to directly affect our philanthropy and our efforts across the globe and the Western Hemisphere. They’ll have a great time, raise money for a great cause, and it brings the entire Medical Center community together.”

About Rob Mitchum (525 Articles)
Rob Mitchum is communications manager at the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
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