Helios Hospital Duisburg-Homberg: Surgeon enables children to lead normal lives
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Helios Hospital Duisburg-Homberg: Surgeon enables children to lead normal lives

Oral and maxillofacial surgery (MKG) at the Helios Clinic Duisburg-Homberg regularly treats children from war and crisis zones in cooperation with Friedensdorf International. Most recently, the treatment of two small patients was successfully completed, in whose home countries medical care was not possible for various reasons.

"Everything is healthy now," Belmira says happily, smiling at Dr. Andreas Hammacher with gleaming white teeth. Joy and pride resound in the voice of the head of oral and maxillofacial surgery as he explains, "We really did a good job, a great result!" Within the last year, he and his team have operated on the 14-year-old girl four times. She had suffered from a pronounced hematoma on her cheeks, mouth and lips in the right side of her face since birth. A blemish that placed a heavy burden on Belmira visually, but especially functionally when eating, drinking and speaking. "In Germany, it's very rare to see such a condition, and they would operate on her at about one year of age. Doctors in Belmira's home country of Angola do not dare to perform such operations. The fear that the patient could bleed to death is too great. In fact, due to the large number of blood vessels in the hematoma, one has to proceed very carefully. In addition, many nerves and muscles run through this part of the face, which must be preserved at all costs in the interest of functionality. In Belmira's case, this was very successful. She can now open her mouth again without restriction and purse her lips. Cosmetically, it is also a very good result," says Dr. Hammacher.  

High-grade cleft lip and palate

The operation on 9-year-old Hikmatullah from Afghanistan was much less complex in comparison: "He was born with a high-grade cleft lip and palate (cleft palate). This was closed in the jaw and lip area by the Afghan aid organization 'Red Crescent', but the palate could not be closed with the rudimentary possibilities in Afghanistan. For Hikmatullah, this meant that food and drink always came out his nose, which dramatically reduced his quality of life," says Dr. Hammacher, highlighting the medical history of his young patient. The procedure lasted around 90 minutes, during which the MKG team closed the oral cavity and thus enabled the boy to live a life in which he can eat and drink normally. 

Ongoing commitment

This condition is also treated much earlier in children born in Germany: Approximately once a week, the Homberg MKG team operates on infants with an LKG cleft, often in cooperation with the pediatric clinic at the Helios St. Johannes Clinic in Duisburg-Hamborn. But while these procedures are easily covered by health insurers, Helios handles the treatments for children from the Peace Village entirely on its own. "We are very happy to make our resources available for this good cause and are pleased that we can give the children a normal life as a result," says Dr. Hammacher. When Peace Village International takes Belmira, Hikmatullah and many other children who have been successfully treated home to their families on a chartered plane in October and November, there will also be many new children in need of medical treatment on the flight back to Germany. And probably some of them will come to the MKG in Homberg again, so that the team around Dr. Hammacher can give them a normal life. 

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