Adapted milk bottles for babies with cleftlip, Guatamala
Tess Unlimited Foundation is a Dutch foundation established in Guatemala founded in 2008 by Tessa de Goede de Ordoñez. Tess Unlimited is committed to people born with schisis, a congenital abnormality known as a 'cleftlip' or ‘cleftpalate’ Our Dutch project finder, Christel Tinselboer, has volunteered for Tess Unlimited in the 10 years that she lived in Guatamala. She now lives and works in the Netherlands but still works for the foundation as board member and fundraiser. She is in close contact with the founder Tessa who lives permanently in Guatemala and who is working full time on her foundation.
Guatemala is a third world country. The care available in Guatemala is therefore very limited and cleftlip is not treated in public hospitals. This means that the children who are born with this congenital deformity have to live with a disfigured face for the rest of their lives often leading to an uncertain and difficult future. Babies with cleft lip are not able to breastfeed. As a direct consequence 98% of these children suffer from malnutrition and infant mortality among this group is very high. In later phases of their lives they develop speech problems and often also psychological problems. At school they are bullied and discriminated against, finding a partner is virtually impossible and these people barely have a chance on the labor market
In Guatemala, medical specialists who can treat schisis patients are virtually non-existent. That is why Tess Unlimited recruits doctors from abroad where various teams offer their services on a voluntary basis free of charge.
Every year Tess Unlimited organizes at least eight operation weeks. All the surgery and postop care is taken care of and from all over Guatemala they arrange transportation for all schisis patients who are planned for surgery to the location where the medical team operates.
The milk project
Malnourished babies can not and must not be operated because the risk of complications is too high. In our milk project, these children are brought to a healthy weight by means of milk, vitamins and a special drinking bottle, the Haberman bottle, so that they have a chance of surgery. In this way Tess Unlimited makes it possible in a safe and cost-effective way to perform surgery on 250 to 300 children per year, with a cleft lip or palate. Since its foundation in 2008, Tess Unlimited has been able to help more than 1700 children with such an operation and give them a better future.
Most children spend an average of 2 months in the milk project to get the right weight before they get their surgery. After the operation, most children stay in the milk project for 2 more months, so they can recover well and do not immediately lose weight again. A special Haberman drinking bottle is given to each baby, so they are able to drink with their schisis. These bottles are essential. Since we operate up to 300 children a year, 300 new bottles per year are needed. The costs for this project are: 300 bottles á 16 euro p / bottle = € 4800
In a large number of cases, the admission to the project and the milkproject not only gives them a chance for the surgery but in many cases the milk actually saves the child's life. From January 2019 the first operations are already planned and these babies are on a waiting list, all of which have to be provided with a Haberman bottle.