Benin, 76 children with facial malformations are smiling again: the short story of Loko who is only 3 months old and of Justine who weighs 4 kilos at 1 and a half years old

Benin, 76 children with facial malformations are smiling again: the short story of Loko who is only 3 months old and of Justine who weighs 4 kilos at 1 and a half years old

ROME – You have just completed the mission of Emergency Smiles in Benin, where the team of doctors and nurses led by plastic surgeons Mario Altacera, Ernesto Marziano and Tommaso Anniboletti managed to change the future of 76 children forever.

Justine, one and a half years old, 4 kg. . At Abomey Calavi Hospital, in Cotonou province, Benin's most populous city, the team of Emergency Smiles performed 100 screenings thus managing to isolate the most serious cases and plan the operating schedule in the best possible way. And this is how Justine was operated on, a one and a half year old girl who weighed only 4 kg as soon as she arrived at the hospital.

The effort to eat, talk, breathe. Being born with a facial malformation has serious consequences even on the simplest actions such as eating, speaking and breathing. Justine's operation was successful and now she will be able to feed herself just like all other children and grow healthy and strong.

The case of Loko. Among the many little ones operated on in this surgical mission there is also Loko, a child of only 3 months with cleft lip and palate. "This is a story that I will always carry in my heart" - says Lorenzo Trentini, logistics assistant of Emergency Smiles. “Loko and his family arrived at the hospital on the very last day available for that type of surgery after discovering the presence of Emergency Smiles thanks to the media which represent a real informative megaphone to let the population know where we operate".

The great work of anesthesiologists. "After more than 3 hours of travel - continues Trentini's story - the little boy's family arrived at the hospital, and although the calendar was already defined, we were able to carry out the operation in the late afternoon, precisely because treating Loko had become a priority absolute for the whole team. The doctors and anesthesiologists have done an incredible job, also considering the great difficulties with such a small child. Now Loko is fine, seeing his smile and the happiness in his parents' eyes has filled us with joy".

Even for just one more smile. Stories of daily life on a mission that every day inspire volunteer doctors and nurses to work tirelessly to give even one more smile. "You start out as a volunteer with a suitcase full of the desire to help those in need", says Christian Coppolino, a volunteer nurse who already has many missions to his credit, "because the joy of seeing these little patients reborn is an exceptional fuel and seeing happy parents repays all the effort”.

The training of local doctors. For over 13 years Emergency Smiles is present in Benin and works closely with the Abomey Calavi Hospital, which has become a point of reference for surgery related to facial malformations throughout the country, also thanks to the presence of Eustache Akoto, who coordinates on site on behalf of the Italian NGO the training activity of local doctors and awareness and communication campaigns related to facial pathologies.

Very common pathologies in the African country. “Dr. Akoto is an important point of reference for us in Benin, a country in which our actions are increasingly incisive also thanks to the constant training in the operating room of many local doctors, who can continue independently to treat the disabling pathologies of the face, unfortunately very widespread in countries where even pregnant women are unable to feed themselves properly", explains Dr. Fabio Massimo Abenavoli, Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgeon, President and founder of Emergency Smiles.

The supporters of the humanitarian mission. The mission is part of a larger information and prevention campaign carried out thanks to the precious contribution of the Italian Episcopal Conferencewho has been at the side of for years Emergency Smiles in Benin. The mission was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Benin and with the support of Flying Angels Foundationwhich funded part of the healthcare team's airline tickets.

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