FORTY children from across China underwent free cleft lip and palate surgeries over the weekend at a Shenzhen hospital that has provided the service to more than 100 young patients through a charity project it started last year.
The 40 children, the youngest being 3 months old, were the third group of young patients to benefit from the project initiated by the University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Hospital.
With the support of foundation, the hospital announced in June 2015 that it would provide free cleft lip and palate surgery to children from anywhere in China with cleft lips, and has received nearly 1,000 applications, according to Fan King-man, a medical consultant with the hospital’s surgery department.
Among those who underwent surgeries over the weekend, one child identified as Xiao Yun from Guangdong’s Shaoguan City, was abandoned right after being born. A man in his 60s, who identified himself only by his surname, Luo, found Xiao in the fields and adopted him.
When Xiao was 4 months old, Luo spent all 13,000 yuan (US$1,884) of his savings on a surgery to repair his cleft lip at a Guangzhou hospital. However, Xiao still had difficulties eating and speaking due to palate problems, but Luo couldn’t afford another surgery.
“I’m grateful for this project, which gives my grandson and family new hope,” said Luo.
Another 14-month-old patient, who got a free cleft lip surgery at the hospital when he was 6 months old, received another surgery to repair his palate Friday.
His father, who identified himself as Wu Minghua from Sichuan Province, said he felt lucky to be a beneficiary of the project. “The first surgery left hardly any scars. The services we received were warm and of a high quality,” said Wu.
The surgeries are administered by doctors at the University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Hospital, as well as doctors and plastic surgery experts from Hong Kong, according to Fan.
The hospital plans to give the free surgeries to two more groups of children, and those who are interested can still apply.
One in 600 newborns in China have cleft lips and the condition often goes untreated in poor families.