When was the last time you saw a child in the UK with an uncorrected cleft lip deformity or other facial deformity? The answer is easy unless you work in this specialised area of healthcare, you probably never have.
That's because it is the birthright of every child born here in the UK to have corrective surgery as soon as is safely possible. In developing countries this is not the case. There is no opportunity for children to have this necessary and often life-saving surgery. Such children often go untreated and have difficulty learning to speak, often unable to attend school and are ostracised from society – a lifetime punishment for them and their families.
HISTORY of the Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (OPSA)
OPSA started its life in 1998 after Mr Nick Hart travelled to Pakistan and was involved in some operations with a hospital in Gujrat, Pakistan. Nick could see how great the need was for his expertise that he returned to the UK and set up OPSA.
Initially, OPSA raised enough funds to be able to provide surgical services once a year. The support grew to such an extent that in 2008, the surgical team were able to make two trips a year and treat twice as many patients.
There has continued to be an enormous demand for this surgery. Patients travel from all over Pakistan in the hope of receiving advice and treatment from the specialist UK surgical team. At the end of every surgical camp, there were always dozens more patients already detailed to have surgery at the next camp.
The incidence of cleft lip palate and other facial deformities is much higher than in the UK. Research is currently being undertaken to try to understand why there is such a high incidence of these cases in some developing countries.
To date, the teams have operated on more than 3000 patients. Approximately 100 to 150 patients receive surgery at each camp of 7 days duration.
THE medical TEAM - UK & PAKISTAN
The medical team from the UK for each camp includes a minimum of two consultant plastic surgeons - Mr Nick Hart and Mr Muhammad Riaz – who specialise in such conditions; a consultant anaesthetist – Dr. Zahid Rafique – who specialises in children and babies, and theatre Sister Mrs Annette Middleton.
In recent camps, also travelling with the team is a maxillofacial consultant to help work with the complex facial disfigurements that OPSA tackles.
In addition to this and, depending on availability, an additional consultant anaesthetist joins the team and another theatre nurse.
Recently trainee plastic surgeons have travelled to Pakistan, at their own expense, to learn skills they would otherwise never gain. In Pakistan, there is a core team of theatre, recovery and ward staff, and additional medical and surgical support personnel who readily give up their time to help us.
Help us continue our life-changing work and donate below.