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Lorma Medical Center, Smile Train partner to provide free cleft lip, palate surgeries

SAN FERNANDO CITY (PIA) – The Lorma Medical Center (LMC) located in this city now provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to indigent patients from La Union and nearby areas.

On Friday, LMC and Smile Train Philippines launched their partnership in a simple ceremony, making the hospital the first in Ilocos Region to partner with the largest cleft-focused non-profit organization. 

Smile Train is an international children's charity that supports 100 percent-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care for children globally. 

Dr. Mario T. Bautista, medical director of Lorma Medical Center, gives his welcome remarks during the launching of the hospital's partnership with SMILE TRAIN Philippines on September 30, 2022. (JPD)

“Our objective with Smile Train is to restore all these physical deformities to as near normal as possible and in doing so, alleviate the lifetime physical, emotional, and psychological impact of these congenial deformities and allow them to live a normal life,” Bautista said.

The first patient to avail of the cleft surgery at no cost is Mac Laren Lodia, a two-year-old boy from Sudipen town.

His mother, Jessie, was teary-eyed as she expressed her gratitude to all those behind the program.

“Kami ay lubhang napakasaya nang nalaman naming may libreng surgery sa mga kagaya ng aking anak. Nagkaroon kami ng bagong pag-asa lalo sa aming mahihirap,” she said.

She added, “Dahil sa programang ito, magkakaroon na rin ng napakatamis na ngiti ang aking anak na pangarap ng bawat magulang na makita.”

The first recipient of SMILE TRAIN's program with Lorma Medical Center is Jessie Lodia's son Mac Laren. (JPD)

Clefts are a common birth defect, which if left untreated, could lead to children’s isolation and difficulties in eating, breathing, and speaking, and risk of severe malnutrition.

Hospital president and administrator Robert Kaiser; lead plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Michael Versoza of LMC; Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Mayor Roque Versoza; La Union 1st District Board Member Gerard Ostrea; members of the media; and hospital staff were present during the program's launching. 

From left to right: La Union 1st District Board Member Gerard Ostrea; Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Mayor Roque Versoza; LMC President and Administrator Robert Kaiser; and LMC medical director Dr. Mario T. Bautista lead the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official launching of LMC's partnership with SMILE TRAIN Philippines. (JPD)

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Joanne Namnama Dilim

Regional Editor

Region 1

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