The future of cleft care

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Emily Nyamu’s Mid term report from Hyderabad

Supported by Future Faces, I arrived at the GSR Institute of Craniofacial Surgery on the 24th of January, 2012, just at the time they were hosting world famous craniofacial surgeons and I was treated to a host of surgeries that I had only read about.

I got a chance to scrub in with Prof Akira Yamada for ear reconstructions, Dr Hade Vuyk and Dr Anthony Wolfe for nose reconstructions and Prof Likith Reddy for Le Fort osteotomies and Tessier cleft repairs. This was followed by the Indocleft Conference, 2012 in Bangalore.

On return from Bangalore, we immediately settled down to the daily routine of the institution. The GSR Institute is one of a few highly specialized cleft units in India that does approximately 1,500 surgeries a year. The institute was established through the efforts of the Hyderabad Cleft Society and the Cleft Children International (CCI), a Zurich based organization. It started functioning from its own premises in May 2005.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Srinivas Gosla Reddy is the director and Dr. Dr. R. Rajgopal Reddy, is the deputy director. Together, they oversee and run 2 theatres, 6 days a week. The Institute also hosts underprivileged cleft children on whom surgery is done as scheduled, while they take them through school.

They not only give them a face they are confident about but they also give them hope for the future, to become whatever they want to be- even cleft and craniofacial surgeons! During my stay at the Institute, these children won many academic and extracurricular activity awards.

The surgeries I was exposed to while at the Institute included primary cheiloplasty and palatoplasty, secondary alveolar bone grafting, secondary lip and palate repairs, fistulae repair, rhinoplasties, orthognathic surgery, TMJ ankylosis release, Tessier cleft repairs, vascular malformation management and a few cases of routine maxillofacial surgeries. I assisted and actively participated in a total of 307 cases under the mentorship of Prof Gosla in the cleft lip surgeries, rhinoplasties, orthognathic and other craniofacial surgeries and of Dr Rajgopal Reddy mainly in the cleft palate surgeries. His skills and finesse in palate repairs are remarkable and earned him the “king of palates” nickname among the fellows. However, because of the high number of surgeries done at the institute, it sometimes felt like there was no time to catch a breath and the atmosphere was sometimes quite intense. But the immense surgical exposure in such a short time was the other side of that coin. It is indeed commendable to see the amount of work that this centre manages and it serves as an example and encouragement that a centre like this can be set up and sustained in other developing countries like in Africa.

I did get some time to sample the famous Hyderabad Biryani and tour Charminar market, Golconda Fort, Salar Jung Museum, Budha Lake and the Banjara Hills Coco’s for quiet evenings after a long week of surgeries. I also made good friends, both international residents that were visiting at the same time and the local Indian residents and fellows with whom we still maintain contact.

I am grateful to the institute for making a huge impact in my journey as I start off as a cleft surgeon and to all the friends who went out to explain the ‘Indian way of life’ and to make my stay comfortable and enjoyable. I hope I made a positive impact and left a small pleasant piece of Africa in their lives too.

I also wish to thank the Trustees of Future Faces for making it all possible.