Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that occur very early in pregnancy.
- Cleft lip: split in the upper lip. This can happen on one or two sides of the lip, creating a wider opening into the nose.
- Cleft palate: split in the roof of the mouth. This leaves a hole between the nose and the mouth.
Cleft lip and palate can occur on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). A child can suffer from cleft lip, cleft palate or both.
Both girls and boys all over the world may have these defects and the exact cause is unknown. Cleft lip and cleft palate are congenital defects that occur early in embryonic development. Scientists believe that a combination of both genetic and environmental factors such as maternal illness, malnutrition or drugs may lead to development of a cleft lip or cleft palate.
It is estimated that, worldwide, a child is born every 3 minutes with a cleft — about one in 500-750 births (1).
In Thailand approximately 2,000 babies are born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate every year.
The ratio varies considerably across geographical areas and ethnic groups (2).
(1) Peterson-Falzone SJ, Hardin-Jones MA, Karnell MP. Cleft palate speech. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2001.
A cleft lip or a cleft palate can cause many forms of physical and psychological suffering including:
- Ear disease and dental problems, including risk of infection
- Problems with proper speech development
- Difficulty eating, which may lead to malnutrition
- Ridicule and humiliation
- Abuse & isolation
Other difficulties resulting from a cleft lip of cleft palate can cause children to suffer needlessly, ultimately resulting in complete withdrawal from their communities.
Yes, surgery provides excellent results. Most surgeons agree that a cleft lip can be repaired by the time a baby is 3 months old. It is an advantage to repair the partition of mouth and nose as early as possible, and the ideal age to repair a cleft palate generally is between the ages of 12 and 18 months. Any surgical procedure is dependent upon a child’s general health and the nature of the deformity.
It depends on the degree of complication, but it can take as little as 45 minutes to repair cleft lip or cleft palate.
Although treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate may extend over several years and require several surgeries depending upon the involvement, most children affected by this condition can achieve normal appearance, speech and eating and they do grow up to be healthy, happy adults!
The cost for one surgery is approximately THB 25,000 (NOK 6,000 and USD 800 depending on the exchange rate). This may vary depending on the complexity of the case, the type of surgery mission and the geographical location. The cost is calculated to cover expenses such as renting surgery room, medical equipment and medical consumables required during the surgery, medication, hospital stay and travel costs between home and hospital for the patient and a chaperone, and travel costs and accommodation for the volunteer medical professionals.
No, cleft lip and cleft palate can be a serious condition with one or several of the problems described in “What problems does a cleft lip or cleft palate cause a child?”. Untreated cases may lead to death.
Yes, all contributions count and 100%* of the funds go directly to surgeries.
* Except mandatory fees as e.g. service charge for credit card
Operation Smile Thailand organizes medical missions with their volunteer medical personnel all over Thailand, in areas where there are many children with untreated cleft lip or cleft palate. Many families cannot afford to pay the cost of a surgery. At these medical missions all the surgeries are provided for completely free of charge.
Several of these medical missions are financed by Kids Action for Kids together with Operation Smile Thailand and financial partners. Kids Action for Kids also helps in other ways through bringing our non-medical volunteers to help, as there are many jobs that need to be done to organize and run a medical mission.
There are two types of medical missions:
a) Weeklong Medical Missions on which we take a team of professionals to provide free surgeries in remote areas or where there are insufficient medical resources to meet demand
b) Ongoing Medical Missions where we fund local hospitals that have plastic surgeons to provide free surgeries and on-going care
Please see reports and pictures for the various missions in Our work.
The children coming to the medical mission will be examined by Operation Smile Thailand’s medical team. There are several aspects to consider before they will get the operation: this can be whether the child is within the weight requirements, whether they have too complex problems for a local hospital so they have to be sent to another hospital and whether the child is healthy enough to go through the surgery (e.g. not have fever or infections).
All incoming donations* to Kids Action for Kids are used to fund surgeries. Administration work is done by unpaid volunteers and all administrative costs are paid from the board members own pockets, so that you can be sure that 100% of the donation we receive will go directly to surgeries.
* Except mandatory fees as e.g. service charge for credit card
Norwegian tax payers may be eligible for tax deduction for gifts to Kids Action for Kids, which is an approved organization. The gift to Kids Action for Kids must be at least NOK 500 for one calendar year to be reported to the tax authorities. The maximum amount for tax deduction for 2019 is NOK 50,000 which is the total gift to all approved voluntary organizations. If you are eligible for tax deduction and enter your Norwegian National ID number, this will automatically be reported to the tax authorities. This cannot be reported by yourself.
For possible tax deduction for gifts from for Norwegian companies, please see www.skatteetaten.no.
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