Free Cleft Surgery for 400 Filipino Children

 
$14,737
$75,263
Raised
Remaining
Aug 31, 2011

Meet Smile Train patient Chelsea Joy Casipit

Chelsea Joy Casipit Before Smile Train Surgery
Chelsea Joy Casipit Before Smile Train Surgery

Chelsea Joy Casipit certainly has a reason to show off her amazing new smile! She recently underwent successful cleft lip surgery at Smile Train partner Noordhoof Craniofacial Foundation Philippines. Chelsea's surgery was performed by expert surgeon Dr. Glenda H. De Villa and the results couldn't be better. One-year-old Chelsea is young enough to never know the torment, pain, and isolation that accompany a life with an unrepaired cleft. Thanks to Smile Train donors and our wonderful partner hospital, Chelsea has been given a second chance at a normal life.

Chelsea Joy Casipit After Smile Train Surgery
Chelsea Joy Casipit After Smile Train Surgery

Links:

Jun 9, 2011

Smile Train Philippines Update

One of our Smile Train partners, Impact Philippines, which runs four hospitals, recently sent us these pictures along with a special note from the mother of one of our patients. She doesn't speak English, but Dr. Tian, who performed this great surgery, translated for us.

"I thank you very much for the help you've done to my child.  I hope you can continue to help a lot more children. You have made my child beautiful. Thank you very much to all who have helped!"

Dr. Tian wanted to wait until the post operation swelling had gone down and the nurses could finish cleaning her face, but her grandmother insisted that they take the picture with her first new smile.

On their behalf and on behalf of all of our patients and their families, thank you for your support.

Jul 22, 2010

Smile Train Partner, Cleftworks Association

In 2009, Smile Train awarded a grant to Cleftworks Association which provided funding for free cleft surgery for 50 patients. Located in Davao City, this group works to provide surgeries for underprivileged children born with complex facial deformities. In their end of year report, the group describes the partnership by saying, "Smile Train’s grant greatly supplemented the cleft program’s funding for surgical treatment cost. It eased the physician’s burden to look for treatment funding for poor patients and concentrate on surgical cleft care, dental access and speech counselling by competent specialists. The attached document shares the stories and before and after pictures of three patients helped by this grant, Angel, Jonathan and Christopher.


Attachments:
May 27, 2010

Philippine Band of Mercy Site Visit

The operating room
The operating room

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On March 4th he visited the hospital and cleft center of the Philippine Band of Mercy, implementing partner of the Smile Train in Quezon City. His “Postcard” from the visit:

With a master’s degree focusing on the principles of sustainable development, my skepticism is piqued when I hear an organization offering “free” services (due to a corresponding lack of a sense of ownership and propagation of a “handout” mentality). After seeing the work that PBM does, I see that there are exceptions. Working exclusively with low-income families and primarily young children, PBM surgeons are able to remedy a cleft lip—an affliction still viewed by some in the Philippines as a “curse” able to “infect” others around you—in about half an hour. These patients have no other option and appeared grateful of what PBM does.

And PBM’s services are far from blind charity. As I wrote in a recent blog (link below), they are able to offer these free surgeries through smart management: keeping costs low and some creative financing. They run a Plastic Surgery Fellowship, which helps surgeons get specialized training. In exchange for the assistance, upon completing the course the doctors agree to volunteer time at the PBM facility. This helps them keep the costs for the surgeries down to about one-tenth of that of private practices, according to Jesus Perez Cardenas, the president of PBM. Their primary source of income, which covers much of the subsidized cost of the surgery, is not grants but selling extra space in their parking lot and office building in the bustling heart of metro Manila.

The hospital and cleft center were clean and seemed well run. The little patients and their mothers appeared to be well tended to before and after the surgery. Going between the two groups was moving. While not quite yet up for a smile, you could see that the recovering patients would not forget PBM anytime soon.

President of PBM Jesus Perez Cardenas
President of PBM Jesus Perez Cardenas
PBM doctors
PBM doctors

Links:

Feb 22, 2010

DR. MICHELLE APORTADERA NAMED SMILE TRAIN HERO

Charlyn Catalan- Before
Charlyn Catalan- Before

November 18, 2009 -- Ask Smile Train partner Dr. Michelle Aportadera (“Doc Mitzi” to colleagues, friends and patients) about one of her favorite success stories, and she will tell you about the shy, 13-year- old girl with a cleft who showed up to one of her traveling operating rooms in a mining town north of Davao City, Philippines, to support her friend, who was there to receive surgery.

The girl’s mother had abandoned her when she was born with a cleft, and her father had died. Her grandmother abused her because of her cleft. Doc Mitzi learned that her aunt was a midwife, who promised to take care of her as soon as she learned of the abuse. “I told her I wanted to do the surgery, but she resisted, saying that she was only there to help her friend. She was extremely shy. The crew had already packed up all of the equipment and it was the end of the day. I told my crew to unpack everything, and I had completed her surgery in about 35 minutes,” said Doc Mitzi. “After the surgery, she gave me a big hug. When I came back 10 days later to check on her, I brought her lip gloss and powder. We take for granted little things like being able to wear lip gloss. She is now back at school and living happily with her aunt.”

This is just one of the many happy endings thanks to the work of Doc Mitzi, and her resourceful team located on the island of Mindanao, situated in the Southeastern region in the Philippines. Doc Mitzi is the Head of Plastic Surgery at the Maharlika Charity Foundation, which has become the Smile Train’s second largest partner in the Philippines. Since receiving Smile Train funding in early 2008, Doc Mitzi devotes close to 80% of her time to Smile Train procedures and increased the number of cleft surgeries that she is able to provide by 500%.

Doc Mitzi was recently in New York City to visit Smile Train headquarters as well as accept the Smile Train Hero award, given out annually to a deserving Smile Train partner who has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

“I am so thankful to Smile Train for all of the help they have given me since my organization became a Smile Train partner,” Doc Mitzi said upon receiving the award. “We always had the people and the passion but we didn’t have the financing to make it all happen. Smile Train has given me the chance to fix a child as soon as we saw the need. I don’t have to find a sponsor, or wait for funding. It is done.”

She and her team are unique in that they don’t wait for the patients to come to them; because of the remote parts of this region, rough terrain and safety concerns, Doc Mitzi travels around the island and sets up temporary cleft centers to perform surgery on the more than 150,000 untreated clefts found in this region. This is in addition to the work that she does at her hospital in Davao City fixing clefts, working on children with burns, and her own private practice.

Her trips always require her team to be extremely flexible, and each journey requires serious obstacles to overcome. Many of the locations take up to six to eight hours to reach because of the rough, unpaved roads. She travels to her patients rather than the other way around because almost all of them are indigent, with no access to major centers. Her patients have fear and anxiety to leave home, as well as a mistrust of treatment and medical intervention. In addition to all of this, many of the areas are war-torn, due to the ongoing conflict that has ripped through the area for decades.

Doc Mitzi admits she couldn’t do any of this without her partner, Dr. Ben Valdez. The two consider each other family, and remember studying together in medical school. Dr. Valdez is the first to go into an area of conflict and begin negotiating with the rebels, asking first for a cease-fire and next for them to allow all of their children with cleft to be allowed to have surgery.

“Before Smile Train, I had such a hard time mobilizing people to help with the cause,” Dr. Valdez said. “We were begging people for funds. When Smile Train came in, it became so much easier for us. So to be honest, coordinating with the rebels is the easy part. It was finding the funding that was difficult. What is even more spectacular is that whenever we are doing surgeries, fighting stops.”

Once a geographic location is determined and a cease-fire negotiated, Doc Mitzi goes in with her team, her equipment, and plenty of food – including ice cream for patients after their surgeries are complete. Both she and Dr. Valdez have slept on floors, desks, and in patients’ homes. They have set up shop and performed surgeries in Senior Citizen centers, basketball courts and even a Mayor’s office. On one trip, when a typhoon knocked out the power, everyone held up their cell phones and Doc Mitzi completed the surgery by their collective light before the generator kicked in.

Her team also relies on creativity and ingenuity to perform each surgery as efficiently as possible. A local bakery and flour company provides flour sacks, which are then cleaned and made into scrubs and operating sheets for the patients. They accept donations of food, toys and clothing for their patients as well. For many of her small patients, it is the first time they have ever tasted ice cream.

Temporary peace brokers, Smile Train partner surgeons and heroes to all of their patients are just a few ways to describe this dynamic duo. Doc Mitzi is also called “Miss Cleft Lip” by the local media, and says that if her life were a television show, it would be called “Adventures in Mitzi’s World,” complete with drama, comedy, and a bit of suspense. And now she can add Smile Train Hero to that ever-growing list.

“We are so happy to be able to recognize Doc Mitzi for her dedication, talent and passion for alleviating the suffering of disadvantaged children with cleft lip and palate in the Philippines,” said Brian Mullaney, Smile Train Co-Founder and President. “We would also like to congratulate her on her remarkable accomplishments in the field of cleft care, and thank her for helping Smile Train change the lives of children every day.” www.smiletrain.org

Charlyn Catalan-After
Charlyn Catalan-After

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Organization

Project Leader

Adina Wexelberg-Clouser

Donor Relations Associate
New York, NY United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Free Cleft Surgery for 400 Filipino Children