cleft lip

How Dr. Mark Filstein and “Operation Smile” Helped Improve Thousands of Lives

in Opinion

Helping underprivileged families and those in need is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding ways to give back. Doing this while focusing on children who may be suffering from a deadly condition, however, is something that no words can describe. This is why organizations like “Operation Smile” have been exponentially growing over the past few decades. For those unfamiliar, these are non-profit organizations that raise funds for people who may need help in the form of medical care and emergency supplies.

When it comes to “Operation Smile,” the objective is to offer state-of-the-art surgeries to every child born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. The venture is funded by worldwide donations that have made it possible for the organization to be active in over 60 countries. Having started in the early 80s, “Operation Smile” continues to change the lives of thousands of young patients who are suffering from this defect.

What Is a Cleft Lip/Palate?

During pregnancy, there is a period when the baby’ facial features are forming by the tissue on its face joining from both sides. Meaning, the tissue that begins on the right and left of their head slowly moves towards the middle where the face will be. Upon completion, the tissue joins together, and both sides are connected. Sometimes, however, babies are born with a birth defect known as cleft lip. This occurs when the tissue that meets at the lip fails to connect.

Consequently, there is a visible opening. Similarly, the same issue can cause the roof of the baby’s mouth to remain open and, in turn, makes them a victim of cleft palate. And even though these conditions are not usually fatal, they certainly cause problems with eating and could lead to possible speech impediments.

Repairing Cleft Lip or Palate

Given the nature of the condition, it is impossible to treat and cure it. Thus, the only way to overcome it is to undergo a surgery that will connect the left side with the right. According to a surgeon with decades of experience, Dr. Mark Filstein, the surgery itself is considered to be a plastic surgery that carries some minor risks. Nevertheless, the vast majority of patients come out with positive results.

Those Who Lack the Resources

Although there are many countries in the world where cleft lip or palate surgeries can be obtained effortlessly, there are many more regions where society lacks the needed resources. This is where organizations like “Operation Smile” come in. By leveraging expert knowledge from all over the world and helping raise funds for the cause, this organization has made an impact on children from every corner of the globe.

The way that it operates is based on smaller medical teams that are made out of volunteers. So, take Dr. Mark Filstein and his career-long volunteering, per se. As one of the experienced members of “Operation Smile,” he has performed hundreds of successful procedures on children who suffered from this defect.

Partnerships and Outreach

To find outlets where surgeries can be performed, “Operation Smile” joins forces with local hospitals. Moreover, they flawlessly integrate with the medical personnel from the facilities in which they perform surgeries to ensure positive results. This is why individuals like Dr. Mark Filstein have been able to perpetuate an ongoing relationship with the organization for more than two decades. Not to mention how rewarding it is to aid those who may be in desperate need of medical attention that goes far beyond what they can afford.

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