Den­tist has been help­ing to put smiles on many faces for a long time

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - SANFRANCISCO JOUR­NAL Chang Jun Con­tact the writer at junechang@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

In two weeks, Colin Wong, in his late 70s, will fly from San Fran­cisco to China again. It will be the 42nd trip to China for Wong, who is “still ex­cited and an­tic­i­pat­ing good things will hap­pen,” said the veteran den­tist, a 1965 alum­nus of the Arthur A. Du­goni School of Den­tistry at the Univer­sity of the Pacific.

As usual, Wong will help co­or­di­nate his team of ex­perts from the Al­liance for Smiles, a San Fran­cisco-based non-profit that pro­vides free cleft lip and palate surg­eries to im­pov­er­ished chil­dren around the world to con­duct op­er­a­tions with lo­cal hos­pi­tals in Guizhou prov­ince in South­west China.

Bilin­gual and well versed in Chi­nese cul­ture and so­cial cus­toms, Wong is in charge of the team’s ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing its China stay.

On Aug 19, Luo Lin­quan, Chi­nese con­sul gen­eral in San Fran­cisco, hosted a ban­quet to rec­og­nize what the al­liance has done over the years for Chi­nese chil­dren and ex­pressed his grat­i­tude on be­half of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment for the Amer­i­can peo­ple’s good­will.

“I want to thank all of you who have vol­un­teered on med­i­cal mis­sions to China or have been gen­er­ous with time and money to sup­port these mis­sions,” Luo said. “To all of you here, you can take enor­mous pride in the changes you helped achieve: build­ing con­fi­dent smiles for chil­dren with cleft lip and palate, mak­ing a dif­fer­ence for their life and even their fam­ily, and help­ing Chi­nese doc­tors and nurses to im­prove their skills.”

In 2004, six mem­bers of the Ro­tary Club of San Fran­cisco — Jim Deitz, Anita Stangl, James Pa­trick, John Go­ings, John Uth and Burt Berry — es­tab­lished the Al­liance for Smiles, hope­ful that the pro­gram would not only send med­i­cal teams to sites to per­form cor­rec­tive surgery but also cre­ate treat­ment cen­ters where the Amer­i­can pro­to­col of cleft surgery could be repli­cated.

The team also hired Karin Varg­ervik, di­rec­tor of the cleft lip and palate treat­ment cen­ter at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco Med­i­cal Cen­ter, to head the treat­ment cen­ter pro­gram.

China is al­ways on the al­liance pro­gram’s radar due to the grave re­al­ity there — ap­prox­i­mately one in 350 chil­dren born in China each year has a cleft lip or palate ab­nor­mal­ity; how­ever, med­i­cal solutions are of­ten out of reach for chil­dren from fam­i­lies in un­der­de­vel­oped re­gions.

Anita Stangl, out­go­ing pres­i­dent and CEO since the in­au­gu­ra­tion, ap­proached China as the first coun­try cho­sen to im­ple­ment its dual con­cept. In ad­di­tion to the vast num­ber of child pa­tients in China, the al­liance al­ready had re­la­tion­ships with the China Pop­u­la­tion Wel­fare Foun­da­tion and the State Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion — or­ga­ni­za­tions that could help set up treat­ment cen­ters.

There was also an in­tense in­ter­est from China’s health work­ers in how to get treat­ment cen­ters up and run­ning.

The cross-bor­der col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion have borne fruit. In 2007, AfS ded­i­cated its first treat­ment cen­ter in Ji­u­jiang, Jiangxi prov­ince, fol­lowed by a sec­ond in Wen­zhou in 2009, and a third in Harbin in 2011. A fourth treat­ment cen­ter is to be es­tab­lished in Zunyi, Guizhou prov­ince this fall.

For the past nine years, the al­liance has sent its doc­tors and nurses from San Fran­cisco to China reg­u­larly to pro­vide free surg­eries and ther­a­pies to young pa­tients.

The work helps build un­der­stand­ing and friend­ship be­tween our two peo­ples, said Luo, adding that the tree of Sino-US friend­ship takes its roots in peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes.

“With the nour­ish­ment of kind­ness and good­will, it will grow and bear sweet fruits for all the gen­er­a­tions to come,” said the top diplo­mat in San Fran­cisco.

Karl Wus­track, chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors at the al­liance for three years, re­ceived a cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion from the con­sulate. He said many of the treat­ment cen­ters the al­liance has es­tab­lished in China are “self-suf­fi­cient”, and Chi­nese physi­cians and med­i­cal staff are ca­pa­ble of han­dling daily op­er­a­tions.

“We are very pos­i­tive about the friend­ship and co­or­di­na­tion with our Chi­nese part­ners,” Wus­track said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.