Smile Train India, an international NGO in its decade and half of operations in India has completed 30,000 cleft lip surgeries for children.

Further, these surgeries have been done free of cost and Bhagwan Mahavir Jain Hospital has performed around 7,000 of them, company officials said. Satish Kalra, Chief Programs Officer, Smile Train said: "In India, 35,000 children are born with clefts every year and almost 10 lakh people live with cleft defects as they cannot afford the corrective surgery." Cleft lip and palate are birth defects caused due to tissues of the face not properly joining together during development. They are often caused due to alcohol, hypertension, smoking, exposure to lead and pesticide at the time of pregnancy. 

Typically, this issue needs 5-6 surgeries, which cost on an average of Rs 2 lakh per surgery. "Apart from the expense, it causes a lot of trauma for the patients," added Kalra.

Institutions like Smile Train and others have helped in bringing the average age of cleft surgeries from 10 years in the past to 2 years. "Our goal is to bring it down to 6 months," said Kalra.

The NGO is looking to raise funds to treat more than 1 lakh cases of cleft syndromes in India. "While donations comes generously from foreigners, Indians need to support this cause too," he said.

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