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30 patients to avail of free surgical operation from ‘Share a Smile’ program

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PIA) -- An estimated 30 patients, mostly children, from the city and the neighboring provinces are expected to avail of the free two-day surgical operation for person with cleft lip/palate on Thursday and Friday (February 17 and 18) at the Mindanao Medical Center (MMC) here.

The project, dubbed as “Share a Smile” this love month is initiated by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) General Santos Twinstar in partnership with Ronel C. Rivera (RCR) Foundation and JCI Mandaue Cebu.

Twinstar Jaycees president, Jocelyn Decano said the 30 patients are referrals of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), the local churches, and walk-ins who qualified the screening process set two days before the date of the surgery.

“The beneficiaries of this project are the less fortunate with facial deformities and could not afford the costly surgical operation,” Decano said.

In a press conference on Monday, plastic surgeon, Dr. Homer Matias explained the advantage of “right time” for children with cleft lip and cleft palate saying these deformities will still be fixed if a child undergoes surgery at an early stage.

“The good news is children with cleft lip and cleft palate will still be cured if operated at the age of 3 months to two years old,” he said.

He also noted that the longer the defect left untreated the more severe the cleft becomes which eventually affects the speaking ability of a person.

According to study cleft lip and cleft palate are considered one of the most common major birth defects, occurring in about 1 or 2 of every 1,000 babies born every year.

Dr. Matias cited the research conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) which attributed congenital defects like orofacial clefts to lack of nutrition by mothers during pregnancy particularly lack of Vitamin B, and hereditary reason.

He also revealed his advocacy to treat children with orofacial deformities for free saying those who will not be accommodated in the two days operation will be referred to other sponsors where he is a partner.

“I’ve always wanted to become a plastic surgeon for the main reason that I want to help people with cleft lip and palate to have brighter future especially to land good jobs.” he added. (PIA General Santos City / By Pops Gumana-Fruylan)

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