US volunteer team to offer free cleft surgeries to Malawians

A United States of America charity, Operation of Hope, in collaboration with Beit Cure Hospital will provide free cleft lip and cleft palate and craniofacial reconstructive surgeries to Malawians.

Operation of Hope Worldwide, based in California, is an all-volunteer surgical team that travels around developing countries to provide free surgeries to people born with or suffering from facial deformities.

President and Executive Director of Operation of Hope, Jennifer Trubenbach, told Nyasa Times they will conduct the exercise at Beit Cure International Hospital in Blantyre in August this year after conducting a similar one in May last year.

About 50 free surgeries are expected to be conducted during the weeklong exercise with each surgery taking between 45 minutes of two hours depending on the condition.

A child with cleft lip

A child with cleft lip

Jennifer Trubenbach

Jennifer Trubenbach

“We were in Blantyre in May 2012 to perform a free week of performing 25 free surgeries and I believe there are quite a few more patients needing this help,” she told Nyasa Times in an interview.

“All potential patients are encouraged to attend screening day examinations at Beit Cure Hospital on Saturday 17, August, 2013 starting from 8am. Our surgeons will examine all potential cases and assign qualified patients for the surgery.”

A cleft lip or cleft palate refers to a separation of the two sides of the lip, which may include the upper jaw bone while a cleft palate is an opening of the mouth where the two sides of the palate are not joined properly.

According to Trubenbach, this is genetic condition and any baby can be born with the condition as there is nothing a father or mother does to have their child born with it.

She also explained that they decided to come back to Malawi for the surgeries because of their relationship with Beit who have opened their doors to welcome her volunteer surgical team.

“We are deeply grateful for their support in helping us perform these free surgeries for children and adults in need of cleft surgeries.

“We choose places around the world that are in dire need for our help. And, we love the people in Malawi as they are kind and deeply grateful for our help,” said Trubenbach who has worked at Operation of Hope since 1996.

Besides provision of life-changing surgical care, Operation of Hope also offers healthcare and medical training programs in under-served areas of the world through international collaboration among medical and non-medical volunteers empowered by corporate and individual sponsors.

Founded in 1988, by retired ear, nose and throat physician Dr. JP Clawson, the team has impacted the lives of over 3,000 children across the world.

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