December 2017. Chennai, India. Baby Jaya’s birth is bittersweet.
When Arun and Sudha first held their daughter, happiness was quickly met with concern. The baby girl they couldn’t wait to meet had been born with a cleft lip and palate – a condition not widely understood in their region, which they feared they could do little about.
With an income of less than $3 a day, Arun and Sudha worried about how they would be able to care for Jaya and get her the cleft surgery she desperately needed.
From concern to relief
“I’d been very nervous about Jaya’s health,” Sudha recalls. She’d been struggling to get her to feed without choking. So, imagine her and Arun’s relief when the staff at Sri Ramachandra Hospital were able to give Jaya her first examination, when she was just two weeks old, and help them manage her condition until treatment was possible.
“A nurse showed me how to feed Jaya and assured us that everything would be fine.”
Little did Arun and Sudha know, thousands of miles away, a new partnership was developing between GSK and Smile Train. Jaya was to become the very first child to have her cleft surgery funded by GSK, paving the way for thousands more children just like her to have their lives transformed by the partnership.
When Jaya was healthy enough for surgery, her family returned to Sri Ramachandra Hospital. Dr. Murthy put their minds immediately at ease, telling them how she had personally performed more than 7,000 Smile Train sponsored cleft surgeries, and that Jaya was in safe hands with her skilled team.
Because she was able to be treated this young, Jaya can now live a full and healthy life, thanks to the ongoing support of GSK and Smile Train.
Smiles for all the family
Jaya is now 2 years old and leading the kind of normal life that her family has always dreamed of. “We are thrilled with Jaya’s progress,” says her father, Arun. “She looks forward to going to school in the morning and to the park in the evening to play with other children.”
It is a reality that has been made possible by the care and attention of Smile Train’s Team at Sri Ramachandra Hospital. “We would not have been able afford this treatment without Smile Train as what I earn barely covers our living expense,” says Arun.
As Jaya continues to develop, she is receiving on-going cleft treatment at Sri Ramachandra Hospital, while her family’s smiles look set to grow and grow.
Smile Train mourns the loss of our longtime dedicated partner Dr. Jyotsna Murthy, who passed away in February of 2020. In her time as a partner, Dr. Murthy provided 7,000+ Smile Train supported cleft surgeries and changed the lives of countless more by passing on her skills and knowledge to cleft specialists across India. Dr. Murthy’s legacy will always live on in the smiles of the faces of thousands of children she helped – including Jaya’s - and in the hearts of everyone who was fortunate enough to know her. Her unwavering passion, commitment, and dedication to children with clefts was unmatched.