New life after plastic surgery

Prem Gurung keeps himself busy by often standing in front of the mirror. It seems that someone has told him that he has become really handsome. He has become a bit serious nowadays. He doesn’t want to remain hidden as he used to. He never hesitates standing before anybody, whether the person is a stranger or a relative. He wants to speak but cannot.

Now he is four and half years old. It was not his fault, neither his parent’s, as unfortunately he was born with a cleft lip. He did not present himself as an unhappy kid, but he used to jump into his mother’s lap with tears when his playmates demoralised him by calling him a khunde or “lame boy”.

Prem was disabled at birth. Our society, marred by illiteracy and ill traditions, does not know that such people and their families need encouragement, love and inspiration. Neither, do they know about the great achievements made by medical science in the 21st century.

Four years ago, he was born as the second child of Bindu Gurung, a resident of Madaha Village in Rupandehi District. At the time of birth, he had cleft lips and his nose and mouth were joined together with just one hole.

Bindu, who was eagerly waiting to have a glimpse of her child, was disappointed to see her son’s face but she could not stop herself from giving motherly love to her child. She had no option other than to accept the gift of the human creator.

But thanks to some American plastic surgeons, Prem is no longer an ugly or lame boy.

He now has a beautiful face. Many people living in disgrace as a result of physical infirmities, like Prem and those coming from poor economic backgrounds had their lives changed due to a project run by the Smile Train Incubator Programme, founded two years ago with assistance of Interplast, USA.

Every two months the organisation has been running free plastic surgery in various parts of the country. Poor family members with cleft lips, torn upper palates, burnt limbs and other such physical defects receive free plastic surgery at programmes run with the coordination of local social organisations.

Prem was operated on at a programme organised at Bharatpur Hospital. Lions club of Narayangarh, Mahendra Adarsha Hospital and District Health Office, Chitwan jointly coordinated the programme. A survey carried out by the organisations found that 40,000 people have cleft lips and torn upper palates in Nepal, of which only 2,300 have received treatment.

Plastic surgery is expensive and is said to be unaffordable for poor families. Expressing happiness over the new face of her son, Bindu says, “I was very concerned about his future, but I am now quite relieved. As he is still very young, doctors have expressed hope that he may be able to speak in the future.” Prem has begun dancing with his friends, and he may even sing in a few years time.