Project #2246

Free Cleft Surgery for 400 Poor Children in Brazil

by Smile Train
Aug 26, 2011

In the Field Travelers visit Smile Train in Rio!

5 month old boy before surgery
5 month old boy before surgery

My name is Melissa Balgley and I am traveling in Brazil this summer with my partner, Josh Niederman, visiting GlobalGiving projects throughout the country. 

During our time in Rio de Janeiro, we were lucky enough to be able to meet with Dr. Diogo Franco who works at University Hospital Fraga Filho, the hospital at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Franco could easily work just in the private sector, but he splits his time working between the private and public sector, which he finds more rewarding. Dr. Franco dedicates one day a week to performing cleft surgeries for children and adults. We were able to watch him operate on a 5-month-old boy, which was quite an experience. It was incredible to see how in only a few hours, the baby´s entire face was reconstructed. As a result of the surgery, this child will now be able to develop normal speech and be able to eat without problems. As the baby was resting in the recovery room with his mother, we ran into the boy´s father in the hall. He shook our hands and said, "First Jesus, than you". Watching Dr. Franco´s skill as well as the effects the surgery had, and will continue to have on the family, was a truly moving experience. 

Donations to this project are extremely important in Brazil. Even though Brazil has a very good healthcare system that pays for surgeries such as this one, necessary equipment isn't always available. Dr. Franco uses the money he receives to buy equipment such as pediatric breathing tubes and surgical equipment, but also for more basic things such as surgical scrubs. This is so surgeries can run more smoothly, because the public hospital has limited resources, which also means limited scrubs. Sometimes by the afternoon all of the scrubs are dirty, so surgeries are delayed until the next day, or sometimes until the next week! This is difficult for families that have to travel long distances to the hospital in Rio de Janeiro. By using donations from GlobalGiving, Dr. Franco is able to avoid delays in surgeries to be able to help as many people as possible. 

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting this project because not only was it clear that is was greatly helping the children and their families, but it was easy to see how donations are making a difference. Also, it was inspiring to see the Dr. Franco´s dedication to his patients. To be compared to Jesus is something that I will never forget, but it isn't me that the baby´s father should have been thanking- it´s you the donor! Thank you so much for your continued support to this project.


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Organization Information

Smile Train

Location: New York - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Smile Train
Project Leader:
Adina Wexelberg-Clouser
Donor Relations Associate
New York, NY United States

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This project is no longer accepting donations.

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