Free life-changing surgery for children with cleft lip
Rokeya, a six-year-old girl who rarely smiles because of a deformity in her face, was brought to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital (BSMMUH) yesterday for a life-changing surgery.
She was born with cleft lip, which means she has a cleft in the upper lip, making it often difficult for her to eat, speak, socialise or even smile.
A group of international medical volunteers has come forward to provide free surgery to fix the cleft lip and palate of children at the hospital under the 'Operation Smile -- Bangladesh-Singapore Friendship Mission' that began yesterday.
The surgery will not only recover Rokeya's smile, it will change her life forever. After being stared and mocked by others for years, Rokeya can now finally lead a normal life.
"I am very happy," said Rokeya. Her father Siddiq Hossain added: "It is unbelievable and I'm very proud of her. I am the happiest person on earth now."
Many shared the same emotion with Siddiq yesterday at the hospital where over 65 children with the same condition as Rokeya gathered with their parents for screening. Some 72 more children will be screened today.
Field workers of Brac identified and registered these children from Dhaka city.
A group of 12 foreign volunteers from Operation Smile, accompanied by nine members of board of trustees, including local specialists, will operate on the children selected through screening in the five-day mission in association with BSMMU and Brac.
"More than 4,000 to 6,000 children are born with this condition a year," said Prof Dr S A Siddiky, a trustee member at Operation Smile, Bangladesh at the inaugural ceremony of health screening of children at BSMMUH yesterday.
"Most parents are not aware of what should be done when their children are born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and palate. These children alienate themselves from society and may ultimately become social burdens," he said.
A group of nurses, paediatricians, anaesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists and other specialists took part in the screening process yesterday. The children selected for surgery were given an identity card and a schedule for the surgery that will take place today.
BSMMU Vice Chancellor Prof Pran Gopal Datta, Dr Shaheen Akhtar, Prof MD Moazzem Hossain, Operation Smile's Director of Singapore Dr Vincent Yeow and Chairman of Operation Smile, Bangladesh Dr Mahabubur Rahman Chowdhury also spoke.