Maria was born with a cleft lip and palate. This congenital deformity affects babies’ ability to feed. As a result, they are more likely to become malnourished, leading to a weakened immune system.
Interplast began providing plastic and reconstructive surgery to the Philippines in 1998, with regular programs in Cagayan de Oro, Baguio City and Masbate.
Last year, Interplast met Maria at Masbate Hospital when she was one year old. Maria’s first operation repaired her cleft lip, as this is best done at a younger age and it allows time for sufficient healing in readiness for the next surgery.
This year, Maria returned for her second surgery, where Interplast surgeons worked alongside local medical staff to close the gap in Maria’s palate.
Maria, and many others like her, may need further surgery over the years to improve their ability to eat, speak and to be actively engaged in their community as they grow up.
During this latest visit, Interplast’s surgical team of six volunteers conducted 76 consultations and performed 65 surgeries in a two-week period. Most surgeries treated children under the age of five for cleft lips and palates, as well as some burn contractures. These complex cases provided Masbate Hospital and their local team with a rich learning experience, which will be passed on to future local staff.
If you would like to support Interplast and their life changing work, please visit www.interplast.org.au/donate and to find out more.