Spreading smiles in Bangladesh

We recently got an opportunity to attend the International Cleft Congress held in Mahabalipuram, where we were provided with a platform to interact with other renowned surgeons as well as exchange ideas and best practices. It is impossible for me to express how proud I feel when I introduce myself as a Smile Train partner surgeon. In the last 10 years, the attachment and warmth that I have received from over 40,000 children whom I have treated, makes me humble. Since the past 8 years, I have been serving as the Project Director of the Smile Train project at LMRF Children's Hospital, Chittagong. It is the positivity and hope that we see in the eyes of patients and their families that motivates us to continue expanding our outreach and increasing the number of surgeries we are providing each year, so that more and more children can smile. We have been conducting extensive outreach in remote areas through our dedicated and enthusiastic outreach workers, newspaper advertisements, word of mouth etc., and have been successful in treating extremely complex cases which would not have been identified otherwise. Having been in this profession for over 10 years, there have been many instances, many stories of transformation, smiles and sighs of relief that have left an imprint on my mind. But, there are a few transformations, the impact of which cannot be quantified. I still remember a 65-70 year old lady, who came to our hospital to get her cleft lip treated. Coming across patients who are willing to undergo cleft surgery at this age is rare, and I wondered what prompted her to get it treated after having lived the prime of her life with a cleft. But, her answer left me speechless. She explained that when she was young, cleft was considered as God’s curse and there were no facilities to get treated. But when her cleft stood in the way of her granddaughter getting married, she decided to find a way to get it treated. Today, she couldn’t be more satisfied as she sees her new smile in the mirror, and her granddaughter leading a happy life with her family. Would this have been possible without Smile Train? Definitely not. The support that Smile Train provides us has not only helped us grow and expand the reach of the program but has also helped ensure that we as surgeons become more skilled and are able to provide better treatment to as many people as possible. As told by Dr. Md Ayub Ali, Smile Train Project Director, LMRF Children’s Hospital, Bangladesh. Dr. Md Ayub Ali has been associated with Smile Train for the last 10 years, and has been leading the program at the hospital for 8 years.