When a child with a cleft receives surgery, they’re getting so much more than just a smile.
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Comprehensive cleft care is life-changing, giving children everywhere hope for a brighter future. With the help of Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization that empowers local medical professionals on a global scale, 1.5 million lives have already been transformed! To get a better understanding of how Smile Train is helping change the world, check out these moving stories and statistics below.
1. Every three minutes, a baby is born with a cleft.
Although cleft surgeries lead to life-changing improvements in a child’s overall health and nutrition, providing these procedures for free is only half the battle for Smile Train and their local partners.
For families like the Cuchipes, who live in a remote area of Ecuador, the first steps to healing include learning that such surgeries even exist, followed by finding a hospital that offers them. Thankfully, Smile Train has partners in 70+ countries!
With their support, Fernanda went from barely being able to eat to thriving at school! In her grandma’s words: “We are so grateful to the doctors, Smile Train’s donors, and everybody who helped our little one. Look at her now! … I wish that the people who helped us will always have the strength and energy to continue and that they’ll keep on helping more people.”
2. Celebrity partners help raise awareness.
NFL star and Smile Train Ambassador Kenyan Drake doesn’t have a cleft, but as someone who used to have a gap in his teeth, he understands what it’s like to be bullied over something you have no control over. That’s just one of the reasons he makes sure to do whatever he can to help Smile Train.
By empowering medical professionals to heal clefts, Smile Train is also helping children become more outgoing and confident in who they are! That’s why Kenyan wants everyone to know about Smile Train’s impact.
“A relatively quick, inexpensive treatment really can change a kid’s life,” he said. “That and if these kids don’t get the surgery when they are young, it will affect them in adolescence and even through adulthood. The earlier you get it, the better the results will be because then you don’t need to learn to cope with it, you can grow up healthier from the beginning.”
3. Assistance beyond surgery.
For many children, surgery alone is not enough to completely heal from a cleft.That’s why Smile Train partners with medical professionals to ensure these children get the non-surgical cleft care they need, such as nutritional support, orthodontics, and speech therapy, at no cost.
Even during the pandemic, Smile Train found a way to safely expand this type of care in the Middle East, when a hospital in Egypt became their first partner in the region to offer these vital non-surgical cleft care services!
4. Finding hope and healing!
Having a cleft is so much more than a cosmetic issue. Babies with clefts often choke when they’re trying to drink milk, leading to severe malnutrition or worse. But with support from Smile Train, moms like Minda receive the help their family needs long before surgery is even possible by learning how to breastfeed in a way that works. This assistance is continued after surgery, too, with nutritional management programs that lead children from barely surviving to thriving!
Minda’s son Livingstone is no longer a malnourished infant. The 5-year-old is the star of his village, and he spreads joy, energy, and confidence wherever he goes!
Although having a cleft can impact children physically, emotionally, and socially, receiving the proper treatment and care has the power to turn their lives around for the better. That’s why it’s so important that Smile Train gets the support they need to continue changing lives around the world one smile at a time.
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