Tuesday 22nd September Craig Russell on The Northern Cleft Foundation

Dr Neil Beattie, Craig Russell and Dr Jimmy Begg

Dr Neil Beattie, Craig Russell and Dr Jimmy Begg



We welcomed Craig Russell, Consultant Plastic and Cleft Surgeon at Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill, Glasgow to talk about his work in India with The Northern Cleft Foundation. In some countries, Russell explained, a cleft lip and palate was seen as being touched by God, but in others it was the work of the devil. No matter the belief, significant number of children in India are born with a cleft lip and palate deformity. Too poor to access medical help, many are left unable to eat or speak properly. The physical, psychological and social implications of being born with a cleft lip and palate cannot be underestimated. Many are teased because of their appearance and inability to communicate. There is great social isolation and stigma that results from being born with such a deformity in a developing country. Russell continued by enquiring from his attentive audience about a parent’s distress at not being able to afford corrective surgery that would transform their child’s life, giving them hope for the future.

Each operation, costing on average just £200, has a hugely positive impact on each child treated he added. And with outreaches being held in India, in host hospitals, once a year the foundation funds travel expenses for families and their children living as far as 200km away, enabling those excluded by poverty the chance of a brighter future.

Russell concluded his presentation by with a very emotive video showing cases including a baby girl who was just 3kg in weight at 3 months of age. Born with a wide cleft lip and palate she had struggled to feed since birth. Her operations will give her the best possible chance to thrive and develop. In another case, a mother deeply upset by the stigmatization from other villagers who said she was the cause of Lucky’s problems, was keen to seek help to correct her son’s cleft lip and palette. And in yet another amazing case, a 66 year old school janitor was given corrective surgery and the first thing he wanted to do after the operation was to go home and kiss his wife. Jimmy Begg gave the vote of thanks