The Smile Train: Hope for kids with cleft lips | india | Hindustan Times
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The Smile Train: Hope for kids with cleft lips

THE SMILE Train (TST) is set to embrace few more stations. The non-profit project aimed at providing free surgeries to children with cleft lips, wants to add more partners and develop specialty centres, in the country.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 01:22 IST

THE SMILE Train (TST) is set to embrace few more stations. The non-profit project aimed at providing free surgeries to children with cleft lips, wants to add more partners and develop specialty centres, in the country.

Director TST (South-Asia) Satish Kalra was on a trip to India to find more partners in the journey to give smile to kids with developmental deformity.

He came to Lucknow to visit the two TST partners, Vivekanad Hospital and the King George’s Medical University today.

“In past couple of years we have been able to establish that cleft surgery is possible with sure success and that’s free for patients through us. This has benefited mostly the poor families who would otherwise have avoided taking their kids to doctors in anticipation of clinical failure and high expenses involved,” Kalra said.

TST makes partners on tough criterions and the primary ones are safety of patient and expertise of surgeons. It has already provided 120000 free cleft surgeries at 68 partner hospitals in India.

“Out of 250 applicants in past five years we selected only 68 out of which 5 are in Uttar Pradesh. We are on a lookout for more centres but the standards are high for any one approaching us. We are not short of funds but want trained or rather expert surgeons for kids,” Kalra said while stating that Rs 20 crores are spent every year on surgery of cleft lip children in India alone.

Uttar Pradesh has TST centres in Lucknow, Varanasi (GS Memorial Hospital and Ramkrishna Mission Hospital) and Gorakhpur Star Hospital.

Children with cleft lips are not only victim of depression when they grow but their early growth is also affected. “A child with cleft lips fails to suck liquid, chew solid properly and even breath easy for the open area on face restricts all these abilities,” said Dr Vaibhav Khanna of Vivekanad Hospital, one of the partners with TST.

For the surgery a patient only needs to reach the centre while all clinical expenses are borne by the TST. “One out of every 1000 live births are of cleft lips which means a hundred births every day. But the irony is that there at least one lakh children with cleft lips that remained untreated for lack of awareness,” Kalra said.