Cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries, let the children smile

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Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. A baby’s head forms early during pregnancy. It is estimated that, each year in the United States, about 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate. This joining of tissue forms the facial features, like the lips and mouth. A cleft lip happens if the tissue that makes up the lip does not join completely before birth. This results in abnormal ‘V’ shaped opening in the upper lip. Children with a cleft lip also can have a cleft palate. Like cleft lip, a cleft palate happens if the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not join together completely during pregnancy.

A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery, especially so if conducted soon after birth or in early childhood. Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft. A child with a cleft has twice the odds of dying before their first birthday. Children with cleft conditions who survive may have difficulty eating, speaking, hearing or breathing properly. In some places, they are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can’t afford the surgeries they need to live a productive life.

Every child deserves access to safe, quality surgical care. Every child deserves a future filled with hope. Foundation for Children in Need, a not-for-profit organization based in Arlington Heights, IL has coordinated free Cleft lip and Cleft Palate Surgeries in collaboration with Smile Network International, U.S.A and the host Hospital, Santhiram Medical College and General Hospital, Nandyal, Kurnool (Dist) India from February 22 to 28 This is an international children’s medical charity that performs safe, effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, and delivers postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries. The goal of every medical mission and all our surgical programs is to heal children’s smiles and transform lives across the globe.

The surgeries are totally free. A team of 19 medical personnel and volunteers lead by Rajbir Sarpal MD, Lester Mohler MD, and Uldis Bite MD, conducted the surgeries. 58 children and adults benefited from these surgeries.

Kim Valentini, Founder, Smile Network International was present for two days of the medical mission. Santhiram Hospital, Nandyal has provided operation theaters and beds for the children and accommodation and food for their parents. Nearly 100 doctors, nurses and volunteers from the hospital have participated and supported for this great cause.

Foundation for Children in need is coordinated and provided travel expenses to the children and their families.