Healing the broken smiles
A voluntary medical camp at Mongar Hospital has helped give new lives to the people living with uncomfortable birth defects
Despite being lauded as one of the happiest places on the earth, some Bhutanese still live with broken smiles. Fortunately, a team of charity doctors are in the country to mend their smiles and give them new beginning in their life.
Volunteer medical specialists from Singapore in collaboration with Tarayana Foundation and the Ministry of Health completed a restorative surgical camp in Mongar Regional Referral Hospital on Friday.
Hairul Sukaime and his team were here to fix the broken smiles. They travel across coun- tries to heal smiles.
Sukaime, the Sr. Programme Manager of the voluntary group, is accompanied by 28 other fellow volunteers, comprising surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, pediatricians, dentists and others from Operation Smile or Smile Asia.
“Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft— often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile,” said Sukaime. “In some places these children are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can’t afford the surgeries they need to live a normal life. That’s where we come in providing much needed surgical services.”
Screening of patients began in Mongar hospital on Wednesday, 23rd September. At 8: 30 AM in the morning, registration booth was filled with applicants who were mostly from eastern Bhutan and few other regions.
However, only 33 candidates were shortlisted to undergo restoration surgery out of 98 registered applicants. Those who were left out did not fulfill the criteria to receive surgery. Many children were underweight and malnourished. Some had lungs and respiratory problems.
Sangay, 4 year- old child, with cleft lip was not permitted to undergo the surgery since his hemoglobin level was too low.
It seems like there is backlog of cases since most of the affected candidates were not treated at birth. And it is not just children but even adults have come.
“I was born with cleft lip and I always feared that I would be humiliated and ostracized by my neighbours. It gave me tremendous happiness to see cleft lip corrected,” said Tashi, 44 year- old man, from Wamrong, Tashigang.
Doctor Ayan Majunmdar from India said, “I always feel good to help people, I am restoring hope and happiness not just to the child but also to the family and the village.”
Yeshi Choden, 10 year- old child, with cleft palate has been treated successfully and now she is using an artificial palate.
“We would like to thank the team for their selflessness, kindness, dedication and hard work towards helping the needy and saving lives every year. We also thank all the volunteers, supporters and sponsors for making this camp possible and a successful one,” said Ms. Wangmo from Tarayana.
Operation Smile or Smile Asia is an Asian-centric international children’s medical charity that provides free surgery and treatment to children with facial deformities forever changing their lives.