Operation Smile UAE collaborated with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s healthcare network and a COVID-19 free hospital over the weekend to provide life-changing surgery for eight children with cleft lip and cleft palate.
Despite the extra challenges posed by COVID-19, the hospital continued to support Operation Smile for the fourth year in a row. Medical volunteers from across the UAE travelled from other Emirates to arrive at the facility and provide surgeries in a completely safe environment.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi volunteers worked alongside Operation Smile medical volunteers to transform a floor of the hospital into a pediatric unit to receive the pre-screened patients. Eight children received surgery and were discharged on Sunday 27th September after final checks.
The annual initiative began in 2017 and could not happen without the support and approval of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. The Marriott Hotel group extended support for the second year in a row by providing hotel accommodation for medical volunteers from Al Ain, Sharjah and Dubai and patients travelling from the Northern Emirates.
Jiangyang, father of 10-month-old Rigzang, said, “At first, my wife and I thought it would be a longshot, knowing how many children out there need help just like our son. Then one day, we received a call informing us that he was being considered for surgery and we were simply filled with hope and joy. A few months later, our son was undergoing screening to prepare for his surgery. This past weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster. We feel like a huge burden has been lifted and we are genuinely grateful to everyone who took part in making this happen.”
“Bringing hope to families who have felt despair is heart-warming. Seeing a child’s life change after surgery is indescribable. We will never forget the hug from a grateful parent. Thanks to the dedication of our amazing volunteers, the Department of Health, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and The Ritz Carlton Hotel Abu Dhabi, Marriot Downtown Abu Dhabi, and Aloft Abu Dhabi we have extended hope to eight more families and hopefully many more in the future,” said Morag Cromey-Hawke, Executive Director, Operation Smile UAE.
“Putting a smile on a child’s face is a feeling beyond words,” said Dr. Mahdi Shkoukani, volunteer and staff physician at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Surgical Subspecialties Institute. “We all are so pleased with the results of the surgeries, which will help these children live healthier, happier lives. Our team has been working around the clock to ensure that patients and their families receive the care they need.”
Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 270,000 free surgeries to children and young adults in more than 60 countries around the world.