Look: Toddlers in UAE get new smiles after hospital helps correct cleft lip, palate

Children with clefts are likely to experience speech difficulties and hearing impairments, as well as dental issues such as cavities and missing, deformed, or misplaced teeth

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 6:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 11:16 PM

As many as 15 life-changing surgeries were performed at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in partnership with Operation Smile UAE.

Through the two-day Operation Smile surgical programme, the faces and lives of patients as young as six months old suffering from cleft lip and palate conditions have been transformed.

Dr Jorge A. Guzman, CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a Mubadala Health partner, noted the initiative comes as part of its corporate social responsibility to support the community and work with charitable groups like Operation Smile UAE.

"We have the appropriate infrastructure, volunteers, and medical teams to make a major difference. We believe it is our responsibility to undertake these life-changing surgeries for as many children and young people in the UAE, as possible."

The hospital’s clinical teams, including anaesthesiologists, physicians, nurses, and support staff volunteered their time and resources so that these patients could benefit from world-class surgical procedures organised by the Operation Smile UAE medical team.

Dr Jorge A. Guzman
Dr Jorge A. Guzman

Dr Mahdi Shkoukani, department chair of otolaryngology, specialising in head and neck surgery, Surgical Subspecialties Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: “This condition has a number of negative effects, in addition to a social stigma. Children with clefts are more likely to experience speech difficulties and hearing impairments, as well as dental issues such as cavities and missing, deformed, or misplaced teeth. As a physician and fellow human, I am honoured to be given this opportunity to help these young faces have a better future.”

Dr Mahdi Shkoukani
Dr Mahdi Shkoukani

Morag Cromey-Hawke, executive director, Operation Smile UAE, said: “A child’s life can be radically changed by cleft surgery, which can take less than an hour. We depend on the generous support of partners like Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to enable us to assist the maximum number of children and young adults to obtain the appropriate and safe care for their facial anomalies. We are extremely fortunate to have access to excellent medical volunteers throughout the UAE, top-class healthcare resources, and well-equipped facilities, thanks to hospitals such as Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.”

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 to provide free and safe treatment for children and young adults worldwide who were born with cleft lip and cleft palate. The Operation Smile UAE chapter was established in January 2011 by Sheikha Alyazia bint Saif Al Nahyan. Although it began as a fundraising, awareness and medical volunteer recruitment effort, it soon developed with the assistance of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, to include providing procedures for patients within the UAE, in 2017.



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