Every year we aim to treat around 50 complex cases of facial disfigurement in Ethiopia. Throughout the year, our outreach team proactively engages with rural communities and government health workers to find individuals with severe facial deformities. Our patients come from far and wide across Ethiopia in often difficult to reach areas.

The conditions we saw this year ranged from tongue-tie and noma to giant ameloblastomas. Thanks to your help we treated 41 patients with complex facial disfigurements in Ethiopia this year and referred 10 others to specialist treatment.

The Pre-op Stage 

Around 60 potential patients arrived in February for pre-surgery assessment in Addis Ababa. During this stage of the mission our patients received initial assessments from a team of doctors, nurses and dietitians to assess suitability for surgery. Full medical histories, various tests, scans and oral hygiene investigations were undertaken. 

Quite often our patients come to us malnourished and this year was no different. One of the main aims of the 2018 complex mission was to improve the nutritional status of patients, to help build up their strength for surgery. We had help from two UK registered dietitians who carefully monitored our patients' diets and provided high calorie drinks to build up their strength. One patient gained 7kg in just 10 days, a huge success for our team. 

The Operative Stage

After an initial two weeks of assessments the main team arrived in Addis Ababa and an intense two-week operative stage took place. A team of surgeons, doctors, nurses and anaesthetists from the UK, France, Hong Kong, USA and Ethiopia operated on 4 patients a day. In total we were able to operate on 41 patients and refer on another 10 for  further investigations. All the surgeries were successful.

The Post-surgery Stage

Post-surgery, patients recuperated at Cheshire Services, just north of Addis, where they received support from nurses and doctors before they were discharged. The care at Cheshire is to ensure patients stay infection free and recover properly from their surgery before returning home. But it’s also an opportunity for our patients to relax and play.

The change in the patients post-surgery was remarkable and they continue to improve every day. Read what lead nurse Catherine had to say about her 2 months' volunteering with Project Harar here

Pre operation cleft lip and palate patients with volunteers smile for group photo