Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
A group, Smile Train, a Non-governmental Organization in partnership with University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has offered free surgery for Children with cleft lip. The group who came with eight specialist surgeons to carry out the operation using UPTH theatre said no child need to live with cleft.
Over 30 children has been operated and as of when the Nation left the theatre room some parents whose children have the defect were seen at the UPTH reception making necessary preparation to benefit from the free surgery.
Briefing the press at the UPTH conference room after the first successful operation, Mrs. Victoria Awazie, the team leader, Smile Train said before now some parents have disowned their babies when they discovered that they have cleft lip problem.
She said it is evil to throw away babies because he or she has defect.
Awazie said it was because of the challenges children with the defect pass through that made Smile Train to offer free cleft surgery in Nigeria. She noted that over 11, 345 children have been successfully operated in Nigeria. She added that there operation has been expanded to West African countries, India and other countries of the world.
She said the main purpose while her group has decided to offer free surgery around the world was because parents were seeing babies with defect as bad baby. She narrated how a woman who delivered a baby with cleft lip problem poisoned her baby twice because she didn’t want people to know that the baby she delivered has a defect.
“This is not the first time we have been coming to Port Harcourt to partner with UPTH over this surgery. It is on record that some parents are now killing their own baby just because that baby has a defect. But it is bad, we are trying our best in terms of publicity to inform parents that they don’t need to kill their baby because of defect. Now we are in Port Harcourt we have been using the media to invite the public to bring any of their babies, relative, neighbour and friend who has cleft lip problem for free operation. We are going to correct that defect and nobody would know that such baby has a defect.
“The most important thing is for public to understand that the service is free. One thing the parent or the public needs to know is that no child needs to live with a cleft. And cleft lip child is not a curse or bad omen, anybody with a cleft lip problem can be helped. We have our specialist surgeons to do a neat operation. Our main objective is to bring smile to the faces of children and adult with cleft lip problem.
The Chief Medical Director of UPTH, Prof. Aaron Ojule who showed gratitude for the free surgery offered by Smile Train said he wants privilege Nigerians to take the opportunity to contribute on the free surgery by donating to Smile Train since other faceless privilege individuals are paying bills to make the surgery free.