International medical aid project brings free reconstructive surgery to Kazakh children

ASTANA – The Asyl Bala Association has launched a project to provide reconstructive and plastic surgeries to children with congenital facial malformations, post-burn deformities and pigmented spots.

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The project is being implemented in cooperation with the International Assistance Group and the Medical Centre Corporate Foundation.

Visiting American plastic surgeons specialising in helping children with severe burns, pigmentation issues and a variety of facial deformities examined more than 200 small patients March 13 to 15. Operations for more than 100 children are scheduled for the end of May.

The operations will be conducted for free by Surgicorps International plastic surgeons together with Kazakh surgeons from the Maternity and Childhood National Science Centre in Astana. International Assistance Group Chair Larisa Mason has also agreed to donate facial surgery equipment from the U.S. to the centre.

Asyl Bala Association founder Gulnara Kunanbayeva, who heads the plastic surgery project, explained that the U.S. medical assistance group offers such services around the world and has decided to include Kazakhstan this year. American experts conducted the first selection of children for the operations in October 2016.

“The specialists selected 100 children and 16 of them are from foster homes. They have different diagnoses. There are children with post-burn scars, Goldenhar syndrome, maxillofacial defects, cleft lip and wolf mouth. There are a lot of children with cleft palates. Basically, these are children from low-income families who cannot afford to pay for the operations. Plastic surgeries are very expensive,” she said.

Many of the operations the children need are complicated and consist of several stages, she noted.

Asyl Bala signed a cooperation agreement with Mason to bring the surgeons to Kazakhstan. A respected American specialist will do the surgeries in three operating rooms donated by the Maternity and Childhood Centre. Ten surgeons and anaesthesiologists are expected to come, Kunanbayeva said.

“We provide travel and accommodation for the specialists and they bring the equipment with them, which remains here after the operation. … We plan to conduct 100 operations, but there are many children in need of help. It is possible that more operations will be carried out,” said Kunanbayeva.

During the first stage of the project in October, about 90 children from across Kazakhstan were examined by the national science centre and Surgicorps International plastic surgeons.

Asyl Bala is a nongovernmental, non-profit organisation that coordinates charitable events and campaigns for children. It has offices in all regions of the country.

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