We have just returned from Gujrat in Pakistan for the 2nd of our bi-annual trips to undertake cleft lip and palate surgery for underprivileged and impoverished children. Overall another very successful trip. In total over 100 little patients received their life- changing operation over six days and across two operating theatres.

Mr Riaz and Mr Chris Hill, the specialist cleft surgeon in Belfast Northern Ireland, along with Dr Mushahid Aslam, military paediatric surgeon undertook the surgical treatments. Mr Riaz and Mr Hill conduct the more complex procedures, and these procedures are scheduled for their arrival. 

Dr Aslam works tirelessly throughout the year during his spare time to operate on the more routine cases, so that Mr Riaz and Mr Hill can concentrate on the other more complex patients. In addition to this, hundreds of patients were seen by the consultants in the Out-patient Department during the camp where they would be advised of the next step in their treatment, and where appropriate, their surgery booked.

As always there were some extremely unusual and particularly complex patients to be seen, including some heart-wrenching ones. The consultant surgeons consider these patients collectively with other disciplines involved in their plan of care; the orthodontist, speech therapist and others. This multi-disciplinary approach ensures the best possible outcome for such patients; this is how we would look after such patients in the UK from birth, and this is one of the goals we are striving to achieve in the long-term.

As we were preparing to leave for the UK after the camp, the hospital was already busy scheduling more patients for us, when we return in March 2017!

During our time there we were fortunate enough to meet with some of the faculty from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, who were visiting to help set up a programme of learning for student midwives. The Cleft Hospital also has a maternity unit in the making; the Jubaida Gatrad Maternity Unit. It is still being commissioned but shortly will offer maternity services also to the local community.

On behalf of ourselves and our overseas patients and their families, we offer our appreciation to all the people and organisations who have supported this amazingly worthy cause, locally, regionally and nationally – without you, we could not achieve this.

One of the massive advantages of the way we work with the Cleft Hospital is that every patient receiving surgery is followed up, and where necessary further surgery can be considered if necessary. Many of the bigger organisations cannot offer this service. We are proud to be able to do so.

For more information, please visit www.opsacharity.com and www.clefthospital.com.

There are many images to be seen on the Cleft Hospital’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/Cleft hospital Gujrat.pk. Worth a visit!

And so our work continues...