Cleft lip and palate implies an often 20+ years rehabilitation process for the affected individual starting a few days after birth. The reward of this multistage, interdisciplinary process can be a near normal appearance. The luxury of this treatment in a global perspective is restricted to a privileged few in highly affluent countries.
Children born with cleft lip/palate in developing countries face a more arduous road. The facial deformity makes them and often their mothers/families social outcasts with hardly a chance to obtain whatever rudimentary education is available, barred from human interaction, without persepctive of making a living or having friends or family of their own. Surgical specialists are few and treatment is rarely affordable. The high birth rate and concomitant higher incidence of the deformity overpowers the scant services available.
Providing charitable surgery in these circumstances has been one of the most gratifying experiences in my surgical career. My wife served as an assistant in the OR, travel companion and model for the “…ideal, beautiful, normal” one strives for in cleft lip and palate surgery.[Galleries 2 not found]