Novosibirsk, Russia – Maksim Snayder has spent the first 6 years of his life in various orphanages, abandoned at birth due to his cleft lip and palate. He has had trouble eating properly for nearly all of his life and has been on a liquid diet for the last few years. At 30 pounds, Maksim weighed less than most boys half his age when he came to Smile Train partner Novosibirsk Municipal Clinical Children’s Emergency Hospital #3. Today, Maksim has fully recovered from his surgery and is eating solid food thanks to the collaborative efforts of Smile Train and Helping Orphans Progress Everyday.
In 2006, H.O.P.E. founder Colleen Moore noticed a small infant with cleft lip and palate on her first adoption trip to Russia. While she had already arranged to adopt another boy from the orphanage, she couldn’t stop thinking of how she could help little Maksim. When she returned home, she reached out to a medical mission based cleft charity in the hopes that they would be able to help. Unfortunately, her outreach was declined because Maksim was the only child that they knew of in the area and it didn’t make sense to send a team to treat one child. Despite the setback, Colleen and her team would not give up on Maksim, following his progress over the years until one day, they heard of Smile Train’s programs in Russia.
H.O.P.E. contacted Smile Train headquarters in New York to see if there was room for Maksim. Smile Train’s program staff immediately arranged to find the closest Smile Train partner: about 4 1/2 hours away in Novosibirsk. After exchanging contact information amongst the two charities, the orphanage, and the hospital, Maksim was in a car and on his way to be screened for surgery. Under the skilled hands of Dr. Mikhail Kolibelkin, Maksim awoke from surgery with a repaired palate and lip on May 31. He was discharged from the hospital a few days later and the results have been remarkable. He is eating solid food again and learning to speak properly, knowing that he is that much closer to the life that he could only dream of before.
This newly forged partnership has given Maksim a second chance at life and being adopted by a loving family. And with H.O.P.E’s network of orphanages now in contact with Smile Train, more orphaned children like Maksim can receive free cleft surgery without having to wait as long as he did.