Heal­ing the bro­ken smiles

A vol­un­tary med­i­cal camp at Mon­gar Hos­pi­tal has helped give new lives to the peo­ple liv­ing with un­com­fort­able birth de­fects

Bhutan Times - - Home - Pema Sel­don, Mon­gar

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.

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