Cleft Stories

MA 18 months

MA was born in a small village in the Volta Region. A health volunteer from the village took brought him to the nearest health center  to seek help where he met a Danish volunteer who recognized  the baby’s condition as a cleft lip. She  search for help on on the internet and found that Smile Train, an international organisation, headquartered in the USA that sponsors free surgery for cleft patients had partners in Kumasi.  She contacted Smile Train who provided her with the contact information of the  Cleft team at KATH in Kumasi. After several email exchanges and telephone  calls, arrangements were made to send MA to Kumasi. The surgery for lip repair was successfully carried out free of charge and the family travelled  back to the village quite satisfied with the outcome happy. The Foundation provided additional funds for transportation to enable the family travel  for regular reviews on the clinic. A year after the surgery the chief of the village organised a durbar and invited the President of the Foundation as a special guest. He conferred on him the honour of citizenship of the village.

SA 5 years

SA was born at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi a  cleft deformity that run from the corner of the left eye down across the face to involve the upper lip. When the father visited the ward after the child’s birth he so was shocked that he said to his wife, “What? Where is this from? Make sure you do not bring this thing child into the house”. To him his wife was wholly responsible for their first born child’s condition. The doctors on the contacted the father and conselled him about the child’s condition after which he reluctantly accepted that t his son’s condition could be repaired.  He then agreed to allow his wife and son to return home. The man moved out of the marital home soon after the mother and child joined him. The Foundation stepped in and assisted with funds for their upkeep and called them from time to time just to reassure them. When the child turned three months the cleft deformity was repaired with a good outcome. Now the father has moved back home and even though the couple have two other children, SA is his father’s favourite child. SA is such so affectionate that each time he attends the clinic for review he has to hug all the clinicians before he will let them examine him.

AA 3 years

AA was born with a cleft lip and palate. The family come from a town in the Central Region. The first time she attended the KATH Cleft Clinic, she was accompanied by quite a sizeable delegation including  a worried mother, a crying father and an anxious grandmother.   AA’s mother narrated that her husband was pressuring her to throw the baby away in the bush because he could not see how such a cursed baby could be raised in their home. The mother had refused to do what her husband had proposed and this had generated a dispute involving the extended family.  Following a family meeting the parents were advised to travel to Kumasi to see if anything could be done about AA’s condition.

Fortunately, when they arrived at the clinic, they saw other children with similar deformities; some had been treated while others were waiting for treatment. The Foundation provided funds for formula feeds as the child could not suckle due to the cleft palate. They were also supported towards transportation costs.  AA underwent surgery and recovered well. Needless to say, they are now a happy family. When they attend for post-surgery review, it is the father who holds the baby as his wife looks on with satisfaction and comments “you know he will not even let her sit, he is so obsessed with her”.

YG - 3 Months

Y G, was six-month old  and came from the Brong Ahafo Region. He was born with cleft on of the left side of his top lip. His mother was quite upset about it and had contemplated killing the baby but lacked the courage to do so. She tried to find help for her son and was eventually referred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.  The Cleft team counseled and reassured her that her son could be treated. Even though the doctors were in a position to assist, the parents could not afford the treatment. The Foundation stepped in to help by providing funds towards the cost of transportation to enable the family attends for follow-up. The surgery was carried out when the child was 3 months old with a good outcome. YG’s mother later admitted that if the lip had not been repaired, she would have killed him by pouring akpeteshie (a local alcoholic drink) down his throat. She added, “The first time I contemplated it  I realized I didn’t have the courage to kill him but this time if the lip had not been repaired after all the assurances I would have killed the boy to relieve myself of the burden I have felt after giving birth to this child. Now I see a child I love, and sometimes I have feelings of guilt for having thought of killing him”.