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Pinky smiles,so did 22 more in UP hospital on Oscar day

For the doctors and staff at Varanasi’s GS Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital and Trauma Centre,the news of Megan Mylan’s short documentary Smile Pinki winning an Oscar was special.

Written by Tarannum Manjul | Lucknow |
February 24, 2009 1:36:06 am

For the doctors and staff at Varanasi’s GS Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital and Trauma Centre,the news of Megan Mylan’s short documentary Smile Pinki winning an Oscar was special. For,it was here that 11-year-old Pinky’s cleft lip was reconstructed,restoring her smile.

So the hospital decided to celebrate Pinky’s — and its own — triumph in a special way today: surgeries were carried out on an unusually large number of children — 22. All these children,born with cleft lips,will now smile like the protagonist of Mylan’s film.

The Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject) was announced relatively early,and the hospital staff were waiting for it before the lone TV set in the lobby since 6.30 am. Screams of joy and a scramble to decorate the hospital with flowers and lights followed the announcement. Sweets were distributed. And then,it was back to business.

“The real celebrations will take place when Pinky,her father Rajendra Sonkar and hospital director Dr Subodh Singh return from Los Angeles,” said Dr Jamesh Khan,who is standing in for Dr Singh.

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The GS Memorial Hospital — an associate of the international charity Smile Train — specialises in reconstructive surgery of cleft lips and palates. It is open every day of the week,and some 14,000 surgeries — the largest number for a single hospital in all of Asia — have been Pinky smiles,and so do 22 more in a UP hospital today

performed here since it was set up in March 2004,Dr Khan said.

Dr Singh and his team performed two corrective surgeries on Pinky in 2007. When Mylan approached him with the idea of making a film on the success of the Smile Train project,the first of these surgeries had already been performed. Mylan chose Pinky as the protagonist of her film.

“We knew that our work would be rewarded at some point. But we had no idea that the film would get an Oscar. We are feeling so proud to be part of a team that has changed the way the world looks at cleft lip surgeries,” Dr Khan said.

“For us,this is a mission,” he added. “We want to bring a beautiful smile to every child’s face. All our surgeries,post-operative drugs and other medicines are free of cost. In cases like Pinky’s,where the parents are poor or live in far-off districts,and are unable to bring their children to Varanasi,we send an ambulance to their homes.”

Among the patients and their relatives who joined in the spontaneous celebrations at the hospital was Ram Parvesh,who had brought his son for surgery. He wasn’t quite sure why everyone was so happy,but celebrated anyway. “I don’t know what Pinky has won,” he said,“but she has got something which my son too has got from this hospital. So I am sure that my child too will achieve some feat.”

SR Singh,Chief Development Officer of Mirzapur district where Pinky’s village Rampur Dibai is located,visited the family to give the child’s mother Simla Devi the news. “Every one in the village was dancing with joy. Her mother distributed sweets. We are all waiting for Pinky to come back and then we may have a small felicitation ceremony was her,” Singh said.

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First published on: 24-02-2009 at 01:36:06 am

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