Tsifoina was born with a cleft lip in 2016. Niine months later, he became the 2 500th patient to be operated on by Operation Smile in Madagascar.
2 500th person to be operated on by Operation Smile in Madagascar
“When Tsifoina was born, I was shocked to see his cleft,” said his mother, Tiavina. “The doctor and midwife took him to the neonatal ward and came back to comfort me. They explained that cleft can be repaired. Yet, I couldn’t hear anything they said – my mind was blank.
“How could this happen to us? What did I do? What did this child do to deserve this?”
Luckily Tiavina and her husband had seen adverts on TV, and heard about options for surgery through word-of-mouth. Operation Smile was a name that kept cropping up.
After searching on the Internet, they found our Facebook page and messaged us. And two weeks later, they had an appointment with Mamy Ramamonjisoa, country manager for Operation Smile in Madagascar.
International medical mission in Antsirabe
Mamy told the young parents about the next international medical mission in Antsirabe. And when the mission arrived, so did the family … with the hope that their then-4-month-old son would receive surgery. Unfortunately, he was not chosen.
Owing to the overwhelming patient turnout – more than 500 arrived for screening – priority was given to older children. Since he was only four months old, Tsifoina’s surgery could wait a little longer.
“But I still kept hope,” said Tiavina. “I knew that one day Operation Smile would call and it would be our baby’s turn for surgery.”
“It was amazing to see all the children, all the mothers, waiting to be chosen. There were hundreds. I told my husband, ‘One day it will be our turn. We must believe.’”
“Another international mission was planned for November. So you can imagine our surprise when our turn came in September.
“I could barely sleep – and the days couldn’t go by any slower!” Tiavina said.
Finally, their turn came. Surgeon educator Dr. Mwepu of the DRC, and his mentees Drs. Ravaka and Briand of Madagascar, operated on Tsifoina.
When they saw their son afterwards, the young parents shed tears of joy.
“Since the beginning, we were confident that the results would be extraordinary,” Tiavina said. “And we are also so pleased to hear that Tsifoina is the 2 500th patient operated on in Madagascar!”
“What an honor,” his father added. “We are so grateful to Operation Smile for having offered smiles to 2,500 patients in Madagascar. Thank you!”