Subodh Singh, a surgeon from Varanasi, has earned worldwide fame by performing 37,000 cleft lip surgeries bringing back happiness in the lives of 25,000 families as part of his "Smile Train Project".
A cleft lip is a common birth condition. It can occur alone as a part of a genetic condition or disorder, or syndrome. Surgery restores normal function with minimal scarring, and speech therapy also helps correct speaking difficulties.
From Where It All Started
The journey to achieve this milestone was not an easy one. According to reports in New Indian Express, Singh hailed from a poor family and his father succumbed to his injuries due to a lack of adequate treatment in February 1979. After his father's demise, the responsibility to fend for the family fell on Subodh and his elder brother, owing to which they took up whatever odd jobs turned by chance. He started selling homemade soaps while his brother worked in Railways on compassionate grounds. However, the collective amount earned was not sufficient for the family.
In 1982 Subodh's brother received his first bonus of Rs 579, which he used to pay young Subodh's medical fees. The act moved him, and he decided to not let his brother down by earning a medical degree. He cleared not one but three medical entrances in a row, the AFMC Pune, BHU (PMT) and UP state combined Pre Medical Test. He opted for BHU to remain with his widowed mother and brother.
The Smile Train Project
Dr Singh kickstarted a free treatment drive to mark his father's death anniversary in 2002. In 2003-04, He started treating people with cleft lip disorder that became a part of The Smile Train Project. "We set a target of 2,500 cleft surgeries by December 2005. The Smile Train India team, while considering our target too ambitious, asked us to go for just 500 free surgeries by 2005-end. We crossed that figure by 2004-end and went beyond 2,500 by the following year-end," Dr Singh was quoted as saying by the publication.
"Since 2008-09, we annually perform 4,000-plus free cleft surgeries under this initiative," he said. Singh attributes his success in achieving this milestone to his late father Gyan Singh and mother Giriraj Kumari, who taught him to serve the poor.