HE walks in through the glass doors, the dark-haired baby in a pretty red outfit clutched to his chest.
His face tells its own story. The man is exhausted as he trudges towards the reception desk at the Cleft Hospital in Gujrat.
At the top of the stairs, the man stops the grey-bearded medical director Dr Ijaz Bashir. He turns his baby girl around, holding her in his outstretched arms.
A gaping hole cuts through the baby girl’s face under her nose where her mouth failed to fuse together properly before she was born. She has a cleft lip, a birth defect experienced by one in every 600 babies born in Pakistan.
But unlike the UK where babies born with cleft lips and palates undergo surgery before they are a year old, most of Pakistan’s children are forced to live with the disfigurement, their families too poor to afford plastic surgery to repair the damage.
But not this little girl.
Her name is Mussart Iqbal and her father Muhammed scrapped together every rupee he could find to pay for the five-hour journey on a cramped public bus to bring her here. He had been told the doctors working here helped poor people who would never be able to afford the money to pay for treatment.
Dr Bashir talks in Urdu to Mussart’s father, getting as much background information about the little girl as he can.
“He saw posters for the hospital on the main road, about a five-hour drive away,” says Dr Bashir. “He then spoke to another family we had helped and he knew he had to at least try to get help for his daughter.
“They only found out about the condition when their daughter was born. They were prescribed a specific feeding bottle to help with getting enough nutrition for the girl but they couldn’t afford to buy it.
“It only costs a few rupees so this family are very, very poor. He told me straight away he did not have any money. I’ve told him it’s ok, we will help him.”
The man fills in forms while medics shine special torches in Mussart’s mouth. She views them suspiciously, with yells of protest as the light shines in her eyes.
But, unlike other children, Mussart’s cleft lip is not a severe problem. She will only require a single operation to give her a smile.
For the past two decades, plastic surgeons, anaesthetists and surgeons from East Yorkshire have been travelling to Gujrat to repair cleft lips and palates. They call themselves Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal and make the 6,000-mile journey twice a year to treat dozens and dozens of children.
Opsa plastic surgeons Muhammad Riaz and Christoph Theopold, working alongside consultant anaesthetist Dr Zahid Rafique and theatre sister Annette Middleton, will start operating on the children tonight and are expected to be in theatre for 15 to 18 hours every day for the next week.
Mussart will undergo her operation on Monday.