Dr. Noordhoff has always been here with us

Dr. Glenda de Villa, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from the Philippines, gave a speech at Dr. Noordhoff’s funeral service.

 “……I am here today because I owe so much to Dr. Sam. He was there and made my training possible through NCF Taiwan’s funding. He was there when I started doing cleft surgeries when I came back home. He is there every time I do surgery. In fact in my operative notes, I always write his name because of the Noordhoff Triangular flap that I make in may patient’s lips. Last December 3, I was on my way to the hospital to operate when I found out that Dr. Sam had passed away. I decided to dedicate all my surgeries for that day in memory of Dr. Sam. He actually continues to live on in our hands for he is always there whenever we do surgery. His name will always be with us because of Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation Philippines. We have new members now who have never met Dr. Sam but we will make sure that the younger people will know about his legacy. Dr Sam lives on.”

How I come to know Dr. Samuel Noordhoff

I have been working with NCF Philippines since the time it started in 2006. Before that, I was working almost the same as NCF Philippines in 2003. Because we didn’t have a foundation yet at that time, but we were already working with cleft children and then Dr. Samuel Noordhoff asked us to start NCF Philippines and that was in the year of 2006.

The most unforgettable experience you had with Dr. Noordhoff?”

There are many unforgettable experiences. He loved Philippine ripe mangoes, so we would give him the sweetest mangoes every time he would visit. Once he ate a mango straight after peeling the skin, no spoon or knife because he was excited to taste it already.

He scolded me once for not fixing the nose of a patient because I was lazy. I only fixed the lip and did not think to improve the nose. He said that we should always include the nose in lip surgery because it could be our only chance to improve the face of the patient.

The most impressive words Dr. Noordhoff said to you?

“the scissors get dull because you don’t use it properly” -  When I told him that the scissors in the surgical sets that he donated were getting dull, he said that surgeons should always take care of their instrument. A pair of scissors will get dull if the surgeon does not use it properly. I also always echo his words to my patients’ parents: “God gave you a special baby because He wants you to become special parents.”

Except for the profession, what other heritage did you get from Dr. Noordhoff?

To treat the patients with love.

What would be the last words you said to Dr. Noordhoff if you were there to say goodbye?

Thank you for teaching us not only how to do surgery but also how to love our patients.

Thank you for giving us the chance to practice what we learned by providing for the machinery that will help us to do the work we do continuously even when you are not around. You did not give us fish but you taught us fishing and gave us the fishing rods and nets so that we could continue to fish on our own. (From the saying: “Do not give a man fish but teach him fishing.”)



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