Free Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Camp Offers New Beginnings

Free Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Camp Offers New Beginnings

By Sherine Atieno.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) is bringing hope to children with cleft lip and palate conditions through a free surgical campaign. Partnering with the Kenya Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (KSPRAS), Smile Train, and the University of Nairobi, the initiative offers life-changing procedures for children who would otherwise struggle to access this critical care.
In Ward 9, Caroline Atieno and Mercy Muga wait anxiously alongside their daughters, Angela and Helen Paul, respectively. Both mothers share the weight of caring for children with cleft conditions, and today, they find a common ground in their hope for a brighter future.
Atieno, a resident of Maseno, has faced immense challenges with her three-month-old daughter, Angela. Born with a cleft lip, Angela struggles to breastfeed, leading to weakness and low weight. However, Atieno’s determination to find help led her to JOOTRH, where the surgical camp ignited a ray of hope.
The cleft lip was discovered immediately after birth by a dedicated nurse at the hospital’s labor ward. “The nurse was very supportive,” Atieno recalls. “She explained the condition and reassured me that there was help available.” It was this very nurse who informed Atieno about the free Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Camp.
Recognizing the financial burden such surgeries often pose in both private and public hospitals, Atieno arrived at JOOTRH on May 26th, eager to secure treatment for Angela. The process began promptly with a thorough screening at the dental clinic. “The staff were incredibly kind and efficient,” Atieno says. “They made sure Angela was well-prepared for the operation.”
With Angela now prepped for surgery, Atieno feels a wave of relief wash over her. “I am hopeful,” she shares. “This surgery has the potential to make a significant difference in Angela’s life.” Atieno’s message to other parents facing similar situations is one of unwavering hope: “Don’t lose hope. There are resources and people who care. If your child has a cleft lip or palate, please seek help at JOOTRH.” She extends her heartfelt gratitude to JOOTRH and their partners for bringing this invaluable service to families like hers. “This free surgery camp is a blessing,” she concludes.
Mercy Muga, from Katito, Kisumu County, shares a similar story. Her one-year-old daughter, Helen Paul, was born with a cleft palate. The condition, identified a day after birth at Katito Sub County Hospital, presented immediate feeding difficulties. “It has been challenging,” Muga explains. “Helen could only consume liquids and pureed food, making it difficult to ensure proper nutrition.”
A beacon of hope arrived in the form of a phone call from a JOOTRH staff member who had seen a poster advertising the Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Camp. Muga, one of the first five parents to arrive, secured a spot for Helen in this life-changing program. With pre-operative instructions to ensure Helen doesn’t eat for four hours before surgery, Muga admits to a mix of hope and anxiety. “I just wish the best for my daughter,” she says.
Muga’s message to other parents is one of encouragement: “Don’t be afraid. Seek support and help your child live a normal life. You are not alone.” She echoes Atieno’s gratitude to JOOTRH and the partners behind this crucial medical campaign.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of JOOTRH, KSPRAS, Smile Train, and the University of Nairobi, Angela, Helen, and other children like them have the opportunity to regain their smiles and embark on a brighter future.
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