Friday, 4 March 2016

Cocoon to Butterfly- With A Smile

In India, parents take pride in the beauty of their daughters. Some unfortunately are not lucky and Suman, from Akbarpur was one of them. She was born with a cleft lip, and grew up in isolation, often mocked at for her look. However, news about a camp providing free cleft surgeries was the turning point of her life. Reluctant at the beginning, sixteen year old Suman soon found her way to the Sushrut Institute of Plastic Surgery (SIPS), Lucknow and a simple surgery changed her life. A shy Suman evolved into a beautiful young woman who started to look forward to her life.

Soon, she was married and with his companionship, her husband Ravi healed the frail leftovers of the cleft that Suman beheld for sixteen years. It was a happy marriage and soon after, Suman and Ravi were blessed with a baby. With the birth of their first child, Suman’s past caught up with her, as her daughter was born with a cleft.

For 18 months, Suman was humiliated for her ‘bad karma’ by her in-laws, which according to them were the reason for their grandchild’s cleft. However, Ravi always stood by Suman and never blamed her. After 18 months of taunts, Suman was lucky to come across a200 medical camp organized by the same hospital and doctor, who had once treated her. Suman was also expecting her second child soon. But with faith in the doctor’s skill, Ravi and Suman took their first born for the operation. The night before the operation, Suman gave birth to her second child, who was also born with a cleft lip.

While it disheartened Suman to see another child with deformity, Ravi just saw two unlucky children who needed help. He followed up with the doctors for surgeries, and supported Suman to overcome this phase. The children were soon operated at Sushrut Institute of Plastic Surgery Hospital (Lucknow) Hospital, under Smile Train Project. By supporting each other, and being open to medical advancements, Ravi was able to give his family a new leash of life.

While all the families we meet inspire us, Ravi touched our hearts in ways more than one. He was a true testimony of the progressive mindsets that reside in ‘rural’ India. With a little bit of help and access to medical care, Ravi was able to save his family from living a life of shame. In the family, we saw the importance of courage and togetherness, to overcome challenges.

For us, plastic surgeons, this was yet another day when we could not only make the families happy but also contribute to the lives of children. As a partner, I am indebted to Smile Train for empowering me to be able to impact lives in such a deep manner.
Dr. R. K. Mishra is a Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon. He is also a member of ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) and Secretary of SRRE Welfare Society. He is the Managing Director at Smile Train partner Sushrut Institute of Plastic Surgery (SIPS) in Lucknow and has been associated with the program since 2007.


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