Have passport, will…get surgery

I absolutely hate turning people away for cleft surgery. I remember taking my second son to a large cleft program in Asia for a cleft lip repair only to be turned away and told to come back another time. As a mother or parent of a child with a cleft, or any deformity, you hold such hope for the best for your child and attend these programs with high hopes and expectations that your child will get their new smiles then and there. I ALWAYS fight hard to get the repairs done – whether by treating illness or repairing hearts!

It’s not uncommon for some children born with cleft lip and palates to also have heart defects. Also, nearly all of the children MHSF helps are from poor, rural areas in the Upper Mekong region – Laos, Myanmar, China, Thailand, and many are sick and undernourished. People from these areas are able to get a 3 day border pass to come to Chiang Rai for assessment at Overbrook Hospital. If they are able to have surgery, the border pass can be extended. If they have other conditions such as infections or heart defects, they are sent home. This is especially frustrating when it is an upper respiratory infection, easily treatable with antibiotics, but needing about a week or so to fully recover for surgery.

Recently, I met three wonderful children from Laos. Two little boys were found to have heart defects and so couldn’t have surgery. One little girl I met for the second time, only to have her sent home to Laos again, due to another infection! This broke my heart! When talking with the cleft team at the YMCA, it became apparent that if the children and a family member had passports, they would be given a 30 day stay in Thailand, and not just 3 days. When I asked why they didn’t have passports, I was told they didn’t have the money to take the bus to the large city with a passport office! Easy fix!

I sent out a call for help raising funds to help with the costs of travel to the passport office and for the passport costs and I was so blessed and overwhelmed by the many friends who came forward and donated! Thank you to A.V, A.E, S.L, L.S, R.T and N.W 

The 5 passports have all be obtained and the two boys have seen the heart surgeon in Chiang Mai already. Stay tuned for surgery updates.