Bringing a Smile

The couple had anxiously awaited the birth of their child, and they were thrilled when they saw it was a son. But when they gazed into his tiny face, they grew alarmed. They could see that his upper lip was split, and they did not understand what was wrong. The government doctors explained his condition, but when the parents heard the words “cleft lip and palate,” their dismay only grew. The couple was embarrassed by his deformity, and their son would not even be able to smile.

The parents were also afraid they would need to spend their life savings on surgery at a specialized hospital. But at the boy’s one-year medical visit, their pediatrician recommended the local missionary hospital. Finally feeling some hope for their son’s future, the couple approached the doctors at Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital. The mother’s question wrung the doctors’ hearts—“Will my child ever be able to smile?” Clasping her hands, the doctors assured her that he would, and that they would be charged only what they could afford. Still somewhat doubtful, the parents agreed to the recommended surgery.

The doctors examined the child, and surgery to repair his cleft lip was scheduled for the following day. The procedure went smoothly with no complications. Today the scar is almost invisible and the boy’s smile has bloomed. Smiles have also returned for his parents and community members who are so pleased with the care he received. The boy will require a second surgery in six months to repair his palate, but the parents have no fear, and the thought of this final procedure and the results it will provide brings a smile to the entire HBMH staff.