OPERATION SMILE
    Foreign, Pinoy experts offer free surgeries to poor folk

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Some 50 plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, dentists, nurses, speech therapists and child life specialists from foreign countries joined their Filipino counterparts on Saturday and started their “International Surgical Mission” providing free reconstructive surgery for poor folk disfigured with cleft lip and palates.

    “All of them took a leave from their private practice and regular hospital work to participate in the mission lasting one week,” said Bobby Manzano, president and executive director of Operation Smile Philippines (OSP).

    He said the foreign specialists include 14 Americans, two British, two Chinese, and two Indians. They are members of the US-based Operation Smile International (OSI), the mother organization of OSP.

    Together with their Filipino counterparts, the specialists started on Saturday doing surgery on indigent patients, both adult and children, at the Mother Theresa of Calcutta Medical Center here, assisted by the hospital’s medical staff.

    Manzano said organizers expect some 200 patients to be treated during the entire mission. The beneficiaries are from various parts of Central Luzon.

    He said the International Surgical Mission is being sponsored by Operation Smile in partnership with the Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF) and other local civic groups. KDF is headed by Clark Development Corp. president and chief executive officer Benigno Ricafort.

    A cleft refers to a fissure or opening. Cleft lip and cleft palate are congenital deformities caused by abnormal facial development of a baby in its mother’s womb. Sometimes, some babies are born with both deformities.

    Medical statistics say about one in every 700 children born have either cleft lip or palate or both. Only surgery could normalize the appearances of victims.


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