Twenty-four children and teens born with cleft lip and palate in the province of Aurora can now flash their newfound smiles after undergoing free corrective surgery, thanks to ‘Smile Train.’
The project is a joint effort of the Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, and Smile Train, an international institution which sponsors free cleft surgeries for children in developing countries. (For more information on Smile Train visit www.smiletrain.org)
A team of volunteer-doctors worked nearly twenty straight hours to operate on the patients, aged 1 to 15 years old, at the Aurora Memorial Hospital located in the town of Baler, the provincial capital. Two surgeons, Dra. Lora Mae de Guzman and Dra. Nikki Valencia, and two anesthesiologists, Dra. Michelle Mae Arellano and Dr. Richard Chong, made up our lean but hardworking medical team. The group started operating on the first patient at 6:00 am of February 28 and rounded up work on the 24th patient by 1:30 am the following day, on February 29. The team is grateful to Dr. Luisito The, hospital director of the Aurora Memorial Hospital and Dr. Raul Tumboc, Provincial Health Officer for their invaluable assistance.