Fund-A-Need: Surgical Equipment in Ethiopia

August 31st, 2015 by

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sr-Yeabsra-visit05-13.JPGIn Ethiopia, TF partners with Yekatit 12 Hospital, the country’s only comprehensive cleft care centre. Every year, Yekatit 12 treats roughly 500 cleft patients and performs 1,000 surgeries on patients with clefts, head injuries, other craniofacial conditions and severe burns.

While the team is highly skilled, they have recently expressed frustrations with the lack of safe, reliable surgical equipment needed to perform their work. To date, they have relied on mostly outdated, second-hand equipment that is increasingly hindering their ability to perform standard procedures.  In response, TF has undertaken an ambitious fundraising initiative to raise over $100,000 in funds for critical new equipment, including electrosurgery, suction and X-Ray machines. This equipment is vital to ensuring our partners are armed for success and our patients receive the highest quality care. 

In addition to patient risk, poor equipment puts Yekatit 12 at risk of brain drain. Ethiopia already faces a major shortage of trained reconstructive surgeons and currently, Yekatit 12 serves as a leading teaching hospital for the country’s plastic and general surgeons; without proper tools in place to carry out their training and work, surgeons will begin to seek out professional opportunities elsewhere. You can help change that! 

By upgrading the most essential equipment, we will be able to help ensure the continued safety and quality of Ethiopia’s only comprehensive cleft care program, and enhance Yekatit 12’s capacity to train the next generation of surgeons from all over the country.

Thanks to the generosity of many wonderful donors and foundations, we have already raised over $20,000 towards this goal… but there is still a very long way to go. 

Please consider making a donation to help transform the lives of Ethiopian medical professionals and patients. 100% of contributions will go directly to this initiative.


Lives Transformed: Meet Xiomara

August 27th, 2015 by

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Xiomara Suárez’s bright, happy smile could light up any room. But, it hasn’t been an easy road for her or her family. Xiomara was born in Argentina earlier this year. When her mother was four months pregnant and living in Buenos Aires, she learned her child would be born with cleft lip and palate. Having no prior history of the condition in her or her husband’s family, Xiomara’s mother was in shock and had difficulty accepting the news.

Her mother immediately researched support services over the internet and came across TF’s partner organization in San Miguel de Tucumán, Fundación GAVINA

Xiomara’s parents left all their belongings behind and set out for San Miguel de Tucumán so Xiomara could have access to comprehensive cleft treatment. Earlier this year, Xiomara successfully had her first lip repair operation. Our team at GAVINA reports that she is in good health and truly captivates everyone she meets.

The Suárez  family will remain in the region so Xiomara can continue comprehensive treatment and, one day, plan to return to their home in Buenos Aires.

The huge sacrifices made by Xiomara’s parents is characteristic of so many of our patients’ families around the world who travel far and wide to access comprehensive treatment for their child. TF aims to address this challenge by bringing cleft care services closer to patients’ communities. Learn more about how we are decentralizing care in India and Thailand


2015 Summer Newsletter Now Available!

August 20th, 2015 by

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Summer 2015 NewsletterCheck out the summer issue of Transformations for updates on our international projects, patients, supporters and events. 

Highlights include:

  • Successful orthodontics training program held at the Hospital for Sick Children
  • European guidelines for early cleft care approved 
  • Beautiful Before & After 2015 raises $64,984 for our cleft care programs
  • Nearly $6,000 raised by 13-year-old TF supporter, Noah Ripstein

Download a copy of our 2015 Summer Newsletter

Speech Therapy Training in Ireland

August 14th, 2015 by

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Berhane Abera, Transforming Faces’ assistant speech-language pathologist in Ethiopia, had the opportunity to participate in a speech-language therapy (SLT) exchange program in Ireland this May.

The purpose of Berhane’s two-week visit to Europe was to support her training for re-entry into the SLT profession. Currently, Ethiopia has a major shortage in trained speech language professionals. In an effort to help address this challenge, TF is supporting ongoing training for Berhane, the development of online SLT lecture materials, and the development of an SLT curriculum for Addis Ababa University.

This intensive exchange program was organized by Triona Sweeney, Cleft Speech & Language Therapist Research Fellow at Dublin’s Temple Street University Children’s Hospital. It included visits to speech therapy facilities around Dublin, a meeting with the speech department at Trinity College Dublin, and the chance to observe patient sessions, including paediatric feeding and vocal cord function screenings. Berhane gained essential knowledge that she will use to strengthen SLT services at our partner hospital, Yekatit 12, and the new SLT training program being developed for Addis Ababa University.

To further her learning and exchange vital knowledge, Berhane then had the opportunity to host Triona in Ethiopia for one week. This visit included training on articulation therapy and language stimulation techniques, a curriculum discussion at Addis Ababa University, and collaboration on a cleft lip and palate resource book in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language.  

This international exchange was co-funded by Operation Smile Ireland and Transforming Faces. A big thanks to Mairead O’Callaghan at Operation Smile Ireland, Berhane, Triona and everyone who helped make this training initiative so successful. 

From left to right: Triona Sweeney, Mairead O’Callaghan, Teri Cosgrove and Berhane Abera

From left to right: Triona Sweeney, Mairead O’Callaghan, Teri Cosgrove and Berhane Abera

Meet Muoy from Myanmar

August 6th, 2015 by

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Muoy Chaiwong was born with a cleft palate in the San Sai Village near the border between Myanmar and Thailand. Her father Jae works as a labourer in the nearby border town of Tachileik and earns a wage of $11 per day.  Her mother, Amporn, stays at home and cares for Muoy.

When she was six months old, Muoy came down with a cold and her parents brought her into to a hospital 5km across the river in Mae Sai, Thailand. Fortunately, Muoy’s family happened to be at the hospital the same day our Thai partners, Northern Women’s Development Foundation, were there providing mobile cleft care services. Muoy’s doctor saw her cleft palate and referred her to our mobile team in November 2014. In December of last year, Muoy received another general health, and ear, nose and throat (ENT) assessment at our partner facility, Overbrook Hospital. Muoy’s cleft repair surgery will take place later this year. 

Muoy’s story is representative of so many children born with cleft lip and palate in Laos and Myanmar. With limited access to care in their home countries, families must travel long distances and across borders to access our comprehensive cleft care programs in northern Thailand. Learn more about how TF is working to close this gap