LUTH opens new pediatrics surgery unit

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By Morenike Bailey

Parents get devastated when their newborns are diagnosed with any form of birth defects or infirmity.

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Cleft lips and cleft palate are particularly unwholesome to behold. And they can either occur alone or as part of a genetic syndrome or condition.

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An opening in the roof of the mouth and lips occurs when tissues don’t fuse during development in the womb. They are often characterized by a split in the upper lips but can also occur without affecting the lips.

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The symptoms may include speech disorder, deformity, nasal congestion, snoring, stuttering, impaired voice, and mouth breathing amongst others.

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Over the years, researches have also proven that the cleft illness can only be corrected by surgery with the to close the opening in the roof of the child’s mouth.

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The fight against cleft palate is more or less a national challenge as no fewer than 5,000 children are born with the disease annually in Nigeria. Victims hitherto grow up with the stigma that often results in lack of education and lack of social inclusion which may cause depression, mockery, and humiliation.

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Although many health facilities have been very proactive in battling the common birth condition, prominent amongst these facilities is the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.

The Pediatric Surgery Unit and Oral Maxillofacial Department of LUTH had in 2018 knocked on the doors of KIDS O-R, a philanthropic organization, for a grant to establish a dedicated operation room for LUTH’s pediatric patients. A positive response from KIDS O-R produced a two-suites building and equipments, one for the free Smile Train Programme and the other for Pediatric Surgery.

The facility, costing $450,000, was commissioned Wednesday and dedicated to children’s surgery and care. ” This is the fourth of such facility in Nigeria after those at the National Hospital Abuja, Uiversity of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu and Kaduna,” said Professor Chris Bode, the chief medical director at LUTH.

He said the feat was accomplished in collaboration with Smile Train (the World’s largest cleft charity) reputed for undertaking free surgeries for kids with cleft lips or cleft palate; the Pediatrics Surgery Unit of LUTH and the West African College of Surgeons.

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Annually, 2.9 million children require elective surgeries in Nigeria and almost 300,000 of them reside in Lagos.

Despite this high burden of surgery among Lagos children, there were no dedicated surgical suites for children in Lagos until the Kids O-R theatres were built in LUTH, Prof Bode disclosed.

In Nigeria, LUTH has earned the status of a center for post-fellowship specialization in cleft surgery, and the Kids O-R theaters the flagship of qualitative capacity for surgery in children in Lagos and Nigeria.

“On behalf of LUTH’s Board of Management, Staff, and patients, I express immense gratitude to Messrs KIDS O-R for this profoundly impactful donation. We shall put it to good use for the maximal benefits of all kids who cross our threshold,” Prof Bode said at the commissioning.

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