Home HEALTH Cleft Surgeon Charges parents to take advantage of free cleft surgery

Cleft Surgeon Charges parents to take advantage of free cleft surgery

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Innocent Iwegbu , Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, FMC. Photo by Andrea Onuoha
Innocent Iwegbu , Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, FMC. Photo by Andrea Onuoha

By Andrea Onuoha

A Cleft and Palate Surgeon, Innocent Iwegbu has charged parents and everyone who knows anyone with a cleft lip and palate to take advantage of the cleft surgery outreach of the Smile Train organization adding that the surgery is free and reliable.

“What I say to the parents out there or those who know children with Cleft is let them come, God has made provision through the Smile train’s collaboration with the various hospitals to operate on those patients free of charge; no cost from the parents from card to drugs, to the admission to surgery, to everything’’.

Innocent Iwegbu , Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, FMC. Photo by Andrea Onuoha
Innocent Iwegbu, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, FMC. Photo by Andrea Onuoha

Innocent Iwegbu, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at Federal Medical Center FMC, Umuahia dismissed the myths associated with cleft lip and explained that it is not a spiritual attack, but a congenital defect that requires medical attention.

“There are quite a several patients who are from unenlightened backgrounds. A number of them see a Cleft child as a bad omen; as a punishment from the gods. So, therefore, they are not kind to those beings. Usually, we have to spend time to disabuse their mind. Sometimes when they come as a couple the Father looks at the Mother of a cleft baby as the cause of the defect.’’

Mrs Chimezie with her baby after a cleft lip surgery. Photo by Andrea Onuoha
Mrs Chimezie with her baby after a cleft lip surgery. Photo by Andrea Onuoha

In explaining what could cause a cleft and palate defect, Iwegbu said there are no direct causes of cleft and palate defect but certain factors like taking unprescribed drugs when pregnant, drinking herbal concoctions, lacking some essential vitamins, and hereditary can contribute to the defect.

“If a woman in her first Trimester of pregnancy takes drugs indiscriminately or unprescribed drugs even Anti-malaria drugs. Some drugs can affect the development of the baby.”

Iwegbu also said Exposure to harmful radiation by the Mother when the child is still in the womb could lead to a defect for example in Hiroshima in Japan where quite several children were born with cleft due to exposure to the atomic bomb during the Second World War.

Iwegbu who is one of the local doctors trained and empowered by Smile train commends the organization for giving help to indigents and also sharpening the medical skills of the surgeons. “I give kudos to Smile Train for getting involved in putting Smiles in the faces of the children and their parents and course helping the surgeons in sharpening their skills.’’

One of the parents, whose child received free cleft surgery at Federal medical center Umuahia was grateful and expressed satisfaction. “Thanks to Smile Train for making it easier for the parents, a lot of parents cannot afford cleft surgery. Thanks to Smile train for their charity works in Nigeria’’.

However, Nkeiruka Obi, the Vice President and Africa Director of Smile Train said the organization will continue to create awareness since it is the key factor in demystifying cleft deformity in various communities in Nigeria.

Nkeiru Obi, Vice President and Africa Director of Smile Train. She said that intentional re-education and sensitization of the population will help reduce the religious bias behind cleft defects in society.

Nkeiruka Obi, the Vice President and Africa Director of Smile Train
Nkeiruka Obi, the Vice President and Africa Director of Smile Train

According to Nkeiruka Obi, “awareness is key, but most instructive, we are a superstitious driven culture. We know that in any deformity, whether acquired or congenital, people will still contrive to trace it to a spiritual challenge.

A Glimpse on Smile Train

Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused organization with a model of true sustainability. The organization has consistently provided training, funding, and resources to empower local medical professionals in over 70 countries to provide wholly free cleft surgery and other forms of essential cleft care in their communities.

Smile Train has delegates across a few states in Nigeria whose work is to organize medical outreaches. The organization achieves its medical aim through local orthopedic surgeons who offer free cleft surgeries to communities.

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