It’s never too late for a new smile

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At 66 years old, Qi Xiu has done many things for many people in her life. She has been a wife, a mother, a grandmother and farmer. For years she raised her family in the remote countryside, farming corn.

Qi Xiu was born with a cleft lip and has been taunted and laughed at for her whole life. She never knew that a surgery to repair her cleft was available so she endured the teasing. Qi Xiu had never known anyone else with a cleft lip or cleft palate.

Qi Xiu recently moved into town and now lives only a few minutes away from a hospital. She heard about an organisation called Operation Smile, which provides free cleft surgeries, just a few days before their next medical mission was about to start.

Excited, Qi Xiu traveled to the mission site with her son, daughter-in-law and daughter. After a comprehensive health evaluation, Qi Xiu waited to see if she would be cleared and scheduled for surgery.

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The next day, Qi Xiu learned that she would receive surgery. From that moment, she never stopped smiling. Qi Xiu was not nervous or scared, just ready to have her lip repaired after so many years of living in sadness.

After a short surgery, Qi Xiu was resting in her room and enjoying her amazing new smile. Qi Xiu said she was thankful that each one of the medical volunteers was so nice and caring. When a volunteer asked Qi Xiu how she felt after receiving the surgery Qi Xiu said, “I am looking forward to taking my grandchildren to school and now no one will laugh at me.”

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A year later Qi Xiu looks like a completely different woman. When she returned home after her surgery her husband of 50 years who has always loved her no matter what thought she looked very different but most all he was happy that she was healthy after her surgery.

Qi Xiu loves her new smile although she says her nose and lip felt very strange for a long time. In thanking Operation Smile for their care and attention she simply said, “I love my smile, nobody laughs at me anymore.”

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