Research & Educaiton
2017/5/8 11:31:56 Shenzhen Daily
BY the end of today, 40 children from across the country will have undergone free cleft lip and palate surgeries at the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital (HKU-SZH) since Thursday.
It’s the fourth time that the hospital has offered free diagnosis and treatment to children with cleft lip and palate since it launched the program in 2015, which has helped over 100 children — most of them from poor families or welfare centers — repair their cleft lips or palates over the past two years.
At least one 1-year-old boy from a rural village in Jiangxi Province, identified as Tongtong, is benefiting from this program for a second time. This time, to repair his cleft palate. He joined the program late last year when he was 7 months old and his cleft lip was fixed in the first surgery.
“I’m really grateful to the hospital,” said Tongtong’s aunt, surnamed Wei. “We used to avoid bringing Tongtong out in the daytime before he received the surgery because other people might point fingers at him.”
According to Wei, the boy’s family couldn’t afford the medical cost of repairing his cleft lip and palate when he was born. Thankfully Tongtong’s cleft lip has been successfully repaired and the family is glad that the boy has been given another opportunity to repair his cleft palate, Wei said.
“Tongtong has recently been learning to speak, but he couldn’t say words very clearly, probably because of his cleft palate. I think the problem will be solved after the second surgery,” Wei said.
Lo Chung-mau, the hospital’s president, said that the program was not only about doing charity, but also providing a professional exchange and training platform for the hospital’s medical workers by cooperating with other medical institutions, such as Medical Missions for Children (MMFC), an American nonprofit organization that offers free medical services to children across the globe.
According to Lo, the hospital has also set up a charity fund to help patients who are in need of financial support. He said that doctors are prohibited from taking gifts or red envelopes from patients, and when the hospital fails to return gifts or money to the patients, it auctions off the gifts publicly and donates the money to the fund.
The charity fund has collected over 100,000 yuan (US$14,700) since it was launched in 2013. “We don’t want the hospital to be polluted by the stink of money. If the patients really want to show their gratitude to the hospital, they can donate money to the fund and help more patients,” Lo said.
According to the hospital, the program will continue recruiting children with cleft lip and palate from across the country and provide free surgeries to another 50 children at the end of this year. Residents can check the hospital’s official website (www.hku-szh.org) for more information.
Apart from MMFC, the program is also supported by the Rotary Club of Hong Kong Northwest, Hong Kong Association for Cleft Lip and Palate, Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd., and Hong Kong Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons.
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