My wife and I were so happy when we saw our newborn daughter’s beautiful face for the very first time that we decided to name her Muskan (the Urdu word for smile). However, our joy was short-lived when the doctor informed us that she had been born with cleft palate. At the time, we had no idea whether a cleft palate could be cured or even if our daughter would be able to survive with this defect in her mouth.
Only the parents of a child with a cleft palate could understand the state of helplessness and distress when your child is unable to take-in proper nutrition. She would choke when using a bottle, even after we started using a specially designed nipple– her choking problem only increased as she grew older and we started feeding her food with spoon.
Muskan’s cleft palate was the cause of many sleepless nights and it flooded our minds with worries about her future. I thought, “Would she ever be able to eat, breathe, and speak like other children?” Finally our worries we were eased when a relative told us about a man who had performed a free cleft palate surgery for their daughter — Smile Train partner surgeon Dr. Tahmeed Ullah.
During our first visit to Dr. Ullah’s clinic, we saw dozens of other children with similar problems. Some of them had already had their transformational cleft surgeries, while others were waiting for the miracle to happen. I felt that we were not alone in our mixed feelings of hope and distress when I looked at the other parent’s faces. When Dr. Ullah, told us that Muskan was accepted for Smile Train sponsored surgery, it revived our hope for our daughter’s future.
On the day of the surgery, my wife was much more composed and confident than me. All day she reassured me that Muskan was in good hands with Dr. Ullah and Smile Train. She was correct in her trust — Dr. Ullah brought our child back to us safe and sound. Our nightmare was over.
Muskan has transformed from a journey of pain and agony to a complete child with a complete smile. She can now eat without difficulty. It may seem like a small thing but it is wonderful to have her eat the same meal as the rest of the family. Thank you very much Smile Train — life is much easier now that Muskan has a perfect smile.