Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Operation Smile UAE transform young faces with life-changing surgery

Press release
Published December 19th, 2022 - 08:22 GMT
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Operation Smile UAE transform young faces with life-changing surgery
During the event
Fifteen life-changing surgeries for cleft lip and cleft palate transform faces and lives of adults and children from six months of age

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a Mubadala Health partner, as part of their ongoing partnership with Operation Smile UAE, hosted an Operation Smile Surgical program in performing 15 life-changing procedures on patients from six months of age and upwards, who suffered from cleft lip and cleft palate conditions. 

The surgeries took place in late November at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, where operating rooms and facilities were available to perform the procedures and for patients to recover. The hospital’s clinical teams, including anesthesiologists, physicians, nurses, and support staff volunteered their time and resources so that these patients could benefit from world-class surgical procedures organized by the Operation Smile UAE medical team. 

The partnership with Operation Smile UAE is a result of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s dedication to enhancing community access to high-quality care closer to home and improving the quality of life for people with these specific facial irregularities. 

Dr. Jorge A. Guzman, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi said, “This initiative is in keeping with our corporate social responsibility to support our community and work with charitable groups like Operation Smile UAE. Because we have the appropriate infrastructure, volunteers, and medical teams to make a major difference, we at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi believe it is our responsibility to undertake these life-changing surgeries for as many children and young people in the UAE, as possible.” 

Dr. Mahdi Shkoukani, Department Chair of Otolaryngology, specializing in head and neck surgery, Surgical Subspecialties Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said, “This condition has a number of negative effects, in addition to a social stigma. Children with clefts are more likely to experience speech difficulties and hearing impairments, as well as dental issues such as cavities and missing, deformed, or misplaced teeth. As a physician and fellow human, I am honored to be given this opportunity to help these young faces have a better future.”

Morag Cromey-Hawke, the Executive Director of Operation Smile UAE said, “A child's life can be radically changed by cleft surgery, which can take less than an hour. We depend on the generous support of partners like Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to enable us to assist the maximum number of children and young adults to obtain the appropriate and safe care for their facial anomalies. We are extremely fortunate to have access to excellent medical volunteers throughout the UAE, top-class healthcare resources, and well-equipped facilities, thanks to hospitals such as Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.”

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 to provide free and safe treatment for children and young adults worldwide who were born with cleft lip and cleft palate. The Operation Smile UAE chapter was established in January 2011 by H.H. Sheikha Alyazia bint Saif Al Nahyan. Although it began as a fundraising, awareness and medical volunteer recruitment effort, it soon developed with the assistance of the Department of Health — Abu Dhabi, to include providing procedures for patients within the UAE, in 2017. 

Background Information

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has five Centers of Excellence in the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye and Respiratory & Critical Care. Other Institutes include Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, and Quality & Patient Safety. In all, more than 30 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

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