HE needed surgery to correct a cleft lip and palate but, everywhere his mother took him, they were sent away.

Dr Rafique with Faizan Ali and Faizan's mother Tahira

Dr Rafique with Faizan Ali and Faizan's mother Tahira

Faizan Ali, eight, was born with the cleft condition and a hole in the heart. His heart condition meant he was at higher risk of complications during surgery and most anaesthetists were not prepared to take the risk.

Three times, Faizan was turned away from surgery which could have improved his life.

But Dr Zahid Rafique, the Hull-based consultant anaesthetist who goes on the twice-yearly trips with Opsa, was determined that it would be fourth time lucky for Faizan.

Dr Rafique said: "I could see Faizan was running up and downstairs like any other active eight year-old. I knew he had a heart condition but I had to balance that with how he is in his everyday life.

"He doesn't et out of breaths, when you talk to him, you see him running around. I wasn't worried about him so I told his mum I was going to do everything I could for him."

Mum Tahira is still completely overwhelmed when she remembers how Dr Rafique gave her hope when she thought there was none.

"It is the greatest kindness anyone has ever shown me," she said. "I was so pleased when I saw Dr Rafique was here again because I know he will help my son.

Dr Rafique with Faizan Ali

Dr Rafique with Faizan Ali

"No-one else wanted to help us and I had lost hope until Dr Rafique came here. He is a blessing on us."

Faizan wil undergo further surgeries on his cleft lip and palate over the coming months, under the watchful eye of the talented anaesthetist.

"There's always a concern that you'll make a hole in the heart worse through anaesthesia and run the risk of heart failure," he said "But this little guy was going to be fine.

"We just keep an extra special eye on an extra special boy."