Beijing, China: November 15, 2005 -
The Smile Train today announced a major expansion of its free cleft surgery program in China. Smile Train plans to double its network of partner hospitals and increase the number of free cleft surgeries 100% by adding 135 new hospitals over the next 18 months. Any Chinese hospital or clinic in China that operates on children with clefts is invited to apply for this free cleft surgery program. Every hospital that meets The Smile Train's Safety And Quality Protocol will be accepted into the program. To apply, hospitals should contact the China Charity Federation or The Smile Train at www.smiletrain.org.
The Smile Train also unveiled a new 1-800 phone number that indigent children with clefts and their families can call to register for free cleft surgery. The Smile Train guarantees that every indigent child with a cleft who needs cleft surgery can receive it for free at a Smile Train partner hospital.
To register for this program, children simply need to go to any of the 135 Smile Train partner hospitals located in every province of China. Call a toll-free number: 800-810-0059 to register for free surgery. Or visit www.smiletrain.org. The Smile Train guarantees that every indigent child with a cleft that applies can receive free surgery no matter how poor they are or where they live.
The World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 35,000 babies born every year in China with cleft lip and or palate and there is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of Chinese who have never received reconstructive surgery for their clefts. The majority of these children are too poor to ever afford the cleft surgery they desperately need.
Today's announcement is a major expansion of an existing Smile Train free cleft surgery program launched in China in March of 2000. Since then, The Smile Train, working closely with its trusted partner, China Charity Federation (CCF), has provided free cleft surgery for more than 80,000 children in China and free training for more than 4,000 medical professionals. This past year, The Smile Train provided free cleft surgery for more than 14,000 indigent children in China.
Following several years of hard work by tens of thousands of charity and Civil Affairs workers, and thousands of medical professionals, we have accomplished a great deal working with our partners at The Smile Train. As a result of our country-wide network, 80,000 children are smiling today," said Fan Baojun, President of CCF. "But there is still a long way to go and there are still many children who need our help."
Unlike other American charities that send teams of American doctors on missions, the Smile Train partners with Chinese doctors and hospitals and helps very poor but very proud communities become self-sufficient. Each and every Smile Train surgery is performed by a local Chinese medical team at a local Chinese hospital or clinic that also shares in the cost.
More than 375,000 Americans and American companies and foundations fund The Smile Train which receives no government funding.