Smile Train Philippines Surpasses 20,000 Free Cleft Surgeries
Manila, Philippines — Smile Train Philippines has provided its 20,000th free cleft lip/palate surgery. This remarkable "smilestone" was reached when Smile Train partner St. Vincent General Hospital in Marikina City completed 4-year-old Edward Pastidio's free cleft lip surgery.
"Smile Train believes that every child born with a cleft deserves the opportunity to live a full and productive life. This global organization aims to reach poor communities and families that do not have access to medical care, and bridge the gap between the cleft child and a simple surgery that will change his life,” said Kimmy Flaviano, Country Manager, Smile Train Philippines.
While most patients his age may not understand the importance of the surgery he received, Edward knew exactly what he had in store for him. When asked if he goes to school, he responded, "No, because my lip hasn’t been sewn yet."
Like most 4-year-olds, Edward is outgoing and full of energy; he loves to draw, write, and play basketball. He has been lucky that his family and his community have accepted him for who he is and have always looked past his cleft lip — sadly, a rare occurence for children with unrepaired clefts who usually live lives of shame and isolation.
The youngest of three siblings, Edward has lots of friends in his neighborhood that he won over with his great personality. Occasionally, a new child would move in and make fun of him, but they quickly learned that his playmates would have none of it. However, the school teacher was afraid that this would change if he attended school without having his cleft repaired.
For Edward and his family, his surgery opens a new chapter in their lives. One where Edward will never have to suffer or be held back becaues of his cleft. A chapter where Edward's intelligence, spirit, and happiness will be free to flourish and where his dream to become a professional basketball player can become a reality.
For the more than 4,000 children who are born with cleft lip and/or palate in the Philippines each year, Edward's surgery represents hope that they too can receive the surgery they need and go on to live a normal life.
“We are very happy and proud to have reached this smilestone. Helping thousands of Filipinos born with cleft lips and palates inspires us to do even more. This is why we strive to sustain and continually expand our local operations and we are very thankful for the support of our partner hospitals and organizations nationwide. Our goal is to give every underprivileged Filipino child born with a cleft a brighter future,” added Kimmy.