Over 100 kids with cleft lip to benefit from free surgery
Over a hundred indigent children with cleft lip and palate will benefit from this year’s 15th annual Operation Smile that kicked off yesterday at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center St. Arnold Janssen Trauma Center.
This year’s theme, “The Journey Home” traces the organization’s roots to the Philippines.
The five-day international surgical mission that will end on Friday is being conducted by 67 volunteer surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists and nurses from 15 countries, including the Philippines.
The medical mission is simultaneously held in General Santos City, Manila and Dasmariñas, Cavite.
The Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung Charitable Foundation Inc. (MSYCFI) is among the local mission partners of Operation Smile Philippines.
The Operation Smile is the flagship project of MSYCFI.
“It’s the biggest mission so far that we have,” said MSYCFI president Jose Antonio Quitevis.
Operation Smile gives free surgeries to indigent children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities who are at least eight months old and in good health.
Of the 238 patients screened last Saturday, 185 qualified for the operation.
“We are not very strict about the requirements. What’s important for us is to help those in need,” said MSYCFI executive director Monette Aliño during the welcome ceremony for the guests who just arrived last Friday at the Radisson Blu Hotel, which offers free 25 room hotel accommodation to the medical volunteers.
The hotel has been an active supporter of Operation Smile since last year, Aliño said.
Marriott Hotel also offered four rooms.
Dr. William Magee, co-founder of Operation Smile Inc. said in a press conference yesterday that 60 percent of the volunteers are Filipinos.
Aliño advised the parents to submit their children with facial deformities to an operation.
“Ayaw tagui ang inyong anak, tabangi (Don’t hide your children, help them). There are always opportunities,” she said.
For only 45 minutes, this surgery will restore the normal look to the children.
Aliño said the patients came from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and Zamboanga City and General Santos City in Mindanao.
Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung, founder and chairperson of the MSYCFI said her feelings are “beyond words.”
“We are very positive this mission will be very productive,” said Robert Manzano, president of Operation Smile Philippines during the press conference.
“This enduring passion has made Operation Smile the world’s largest children’s charity dedicated to cleft care with a permanent presence in over 60 countries including the Philippines, and 7,000 volunteers from 80 countries worldwide,” said Manzano.
The event is the 15th year for MSYCFI and the 30th Jubilee of Operation Smile in the Philippines. Operation Smile Philippines was established in 1988. /Correspondent Tweeny M. Malinao
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