A Second Smile: Thanks to the Free Surgical Campaign

A Second Smile: Thanks to the Free Surgical Campaign

By: Sherine Atieno

Caroline Atieno’s heart overflows with gratitude. A wide smile, a silent “thank you,” speaks volumes about her journey. Her three-month-old daughter, Angela, recently underwent a successful cleft lip surgery at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) thanks to a collaborative effort between the Kenya Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (KSPRAS), Smile Train, and the University of Nairobi.

“It was amazing,” Atieno says. “Today, Angela looks so different and healthier.” The JOOTRH surgical team’s skill has given Angela a smooth start to recovery, transforming a path filled with uncertainty into one brimming with optimism.

Despite the surgery’s success, challenges remain. Angela’s fresh wound makes suckling or bottle-feeding difficult, disrupting sleep patterns for both mother and child. “It’s tough seeing her in pain,” Atieno admits. “She struggles to take milk.” The doctors have prescribed massage with medication and antibiotic syrups to manage pain, prevent infection, and promote healing. Atieno meticulously follows their instructions to ensure a proper recovery.

This week marks Angela’s discharge, but the journey continues. Another surgery to address her cleft palate awaits next year. The doctors advised waiting as Angela couldn’t undergo two procedures simultaneously. “We’ve come so far,” Atieno says with determination. “I believe we’ll get through the next surgery too.”

Atieno expresses her deepest gratitude to the entire JOOTRH staff for their care and support. Her heartfelt appreciation extends to KSPRAS, Smile Train, and the University of Nairobi for the life-changing free surgery that lifted her financial burden. The skilled surgeons have given Angela the chance to smile like other children.

“Don’t lose hope,” Atieno shares, a powerful message for parents facing similar situations. “There is help out there. Seek it out and give your child the chance to thrive.”


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