Surgeons and medical staff are preparing for their next trip to Pakistan to transform the lives of children born with severe facial deformities.

Led by consultant plastic surgeon Muhammad Riaz, the team from the Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (OPSA) charity will fly to Pakistan in March to work at the world’s first dedicated hospital treating children and young people born with cleft lip and palates.

Mr Riaz, who works as a surgeon in East Yorkshire, will travel to the hospital in Gujrat with Dr Zahid Rafique, a consultant anaesthetist specialising in the care of children and babies, and theatre sister Annette Middleton to see hundreds of patients travelling from all over Pakistan during the week-long camp.

Consultant cleft and reconstructive surgeon Chris Theopald, who worked at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital before running the service at Temple Street Children's University Hospital in Dublin, will also be joining the team on his first trip to help the charity’s work.

The OPSA team has been travelling to Pakistan twice a year since 2008 and has operated on more than 3,000 people, with around 150 undergoing surgery during each trip.

The incidence of cleft lip and palate is higher in Pakistan than in the UK and many of these people simply cannot afford to pay for the surgery they need. Many go untreated and they and their families are eased out of society.
— Mr M Riaz

“Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we can give them the chance of leading happier lives by giving them the treatment children born with this condition in the UK have a right to receive.

“There continued to be an enormous demand for this surgery. At the end of every surgical camp, there were always dozens more patients listed for surgery at the next camp.  The supply never runs out.”

The trip will take place between March 26 and April 1. Anyone who would like to support OPSA’s work can click here.

Consultant breast surgeon Penny McManus will also travel to Pakistan with associate specialist breast surgeon Naila Ihsan in March to help women with breast cancer and continue her work to raise awareness against a backdrop of increasing incidence, particularly among younger women.