Smile Train’s 750,000th Surgery – Jhoanna Galut

Quezon City, PhilippinesYesterday, Smile Train announced our 750,000th free cleft surgery since our founding in 1999. Jhoanna Galut was chosen to represent this amazing “smilestone.” This is her story.

Smile Train's 750,000th Patient Jhoanna After Surgery

As Jhoanna Galut began to approach her 6th birthday, she had little to celebrate. The 4th of 6 children born to a poor family living off $2 a day, Jhoanna suffered from a unilateral cleft lip as well as asthma. Her asthma turned out to be almost as much of a curse as her cleft lip.

Jhoanna’ asthma and very thin frame caused her to fail to pass the medical examination during a free cleft surgery camp organized by an army unit. The cancellation of her surgery at the camp, sent her family into despair. Things only got worse when she got older and local kids began to make fun of her cleft. Perhaps saddest of all, it wasn’t just school kids who made fun of Jhoanna — her mother frequently got into fights with her neighbors over Jhoanna’s cleft.

One day, Jhoanna’s mother brought her youngest child to the hospital for a check up and found literature about Smile Train’s free cleft surgery program at Philippine Band of Mercy. Her hope returned, and when they arrived home, they packed their backs immediately.

Jhoanna had grown strong enough to pass the medical examination and finally received free cleft lip surgery at the hands of Dr. Gilbert Esquejo of Philippine Band of Mercy. With her bright new smile, Jhoana is anxiously looking forward to school and hopes to one day become a teacher.

A Note of Thanks From the Mother of a Smile Train Patient

Smile Train patient Lucas before and after receiving excellent cleft care

Curitiba, BrazilA note from the mother of one of our patients that was given to and translated by our partner CAIF/AFISSUR after the excellent care her son received during his free cleft surgery and follow ups.

Lucas is my first child. I got prenatal care in the Public Health System and the ultrasound did not show any problems, so I expected Lucas to be a normal baby. I was really shocked when he was born with a cleft lip and palate. Due to his cleft, he spent eight days in the hospital. At the beginning due to our shock over his cleft and the problems he had nursing, everything was very difficult for me and my family.

“For a long time, I felt guilty for Lucas’ cleft lip and palate. I assumed it was because of the way I acted during the time I was pregnant. However, after arriving at CAIF/AFISSUR, I was welcomed by a team of professionals and heard about Smile Train’s free cleft surgery program.

“With the help of this team and Smile Train, Lucas is getting high quality treatment and he can have a normal life just like other children his age. I don’t have enough words to thank CAIF/AFISSUR and Smile Train.”