Up to 24 children and adults will receive transformative surgery for cleft lips and palates
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi will host ‘Operation Smile UAE’, the foundation committed to providing free transformative procedures for cleft lips and palates, for the third time this June.
Up to 24 children and adults will receive transformative surgery from Operation Smile UAE at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi on June 21 and 22. The hospital will make two operating rooms available to the foundation’s medical volunteers, along with food and other supplies.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate) or both. The condition occurs when facial structures that are developing don’t close completely in an unborn baby. Cleft lip and palate are among the most common birth defects and most commonly occur as isolated birth defects, but sometimes can be associated with other inherited genetic conditions or syndromes.
Both cleft lip and palate can be corrected with a series of surgeries that restore normal function and achieve a regular appearance with minimal scarring.
More than 230 volunteers will assist with the third UAE mission, over 180 of which are from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi volunteers participating in Operation Smile include: 30 Operating Room nurses, 26 nurses specializing in pre- and post-operative care, 1 surgeon, 8 anesthesia physicians, 13 anesthesia technicians and a number of non-clinical staff.
“We are excited to welcome Operation Smile back for the third year. Collaborating with the foundation in 2017 and 2018 was a rewarding experience for everyone involved and it’s an important opportunity to help change the lives of these patients,” said Dr. Mahdi Shkoukani, Otolaryngologist (ENT) and facial plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Operation Smile volunteer. “This initiative aligns with the UAE’s goal of becoming the global capital for tolerance – no matter the patient’s nationality or background, ‘Operation Smile’ provides them and their families with the highest level of care.”
Operation Smile UAE was established in January 2011 under the patronage of Sheikha Aljazia Bint Saif Bin Mohamed Al Nahyan, wife of H.H. Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and works to provide cleft lip and cleft palate repair surgeries for children and adults all over the world. Operation Smile UAE raises funds to perform the surgeries, recruits medical volunteers from across the globe, and raises awareness around the condition within the region.
“We are delighted to be working with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi again to provide the opportunity of corrective, safe and timely surgery to so many children and young adults who have endured challenges as a result of being born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both,” said Morag Cromey-Hawke, Executive Director, Operation Smile UAE. “Sheikha Aljazia’s vision of helping children with facial anomalies, from all over the world, live their lives full of hope instead of misery could not be more important than during this Year of Tolerance. Patients and families of more than 15 different nationalities have contacted Operation Smile UAE with the hope of receiving treatment for cleft conditions, and we are excited to have medical volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds helping to make their dreams come true.”
Internationally, since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 270,000 free surgeries to children and young adults around the world and over 400,000 patient interactions in 2018 alone.