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Smile Train Founder Visits China to Attend Smile Train Surgical Training Program Graduation and Meet Program's 20,000th Patient.

'These Doctors Are the Real Heroes of The Smile Train,' Says Charles B. Wang

BEIJING, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ --

Charles B. Wang, Chairman of Computer Associates International, Inc., and founder of The Smile Train, today met with the latest graduating class of Peking University Stomatological Hospital Key Center, part of a national, cleft surgery training program sponsored by The Smile Train.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010807/NYTU081 )

In addition to congratulating these surgeons and thanking them for their commitment to helping children, Wang met the 20,000th child who has benefited from The Smile Train program along with dozens of other patients.

In more than 27 countries around the world, The Smile Train empowers local doctors and hospitals to provide free cleft lip and cleft palate surgery for poor children who would otherwise not receive it. The Smile Train's free surgery programs operate in more than 100 hospitals across China.

Smile Train patient number 20,000 is typical of the kind of child that The Smile Train was created to help. Patient number 20,000 is a one-year old orphan who was abandoned soon after birth because of her cleft lip and cleft palate. She was found lying by the side of the road by a man with a big heart, Li Yu Liang, a peasant from Hubei who brought her home and adopted her. He named her Li Meiling, which means Beautiful Bell. Meiling was operated on August 2 for both her cleft lip and her cleft palate. Her surgery went extremely well and soon she will be going home with not only a new smile but also a second chance at life. Interestingly enough, this is a second chance for her adopted father who lost his wife to kidney disease shortly before he came upon Meiling.

"20,000 surgeries since inception is quite a milestone for The Smile Train and I want to thank the thousands of doctors and nurses who made it happen," said Wang. "I think of it as 20,000 miracles, each one an incredible opportunity to give a suffering child not just a new smile but a new life. Little Meiling is a great example of how this surgery can change someone's life completely. Now she can grow up and be like any other little girl."

The latest graduating class of the Peking University Stomatological Hospital Key Center includes 12 surgeons and anesthesiologists from three northern Chinese provinces who have completed a two-month course of intensive study and hands-on training in the latest techniques in cleft surgery. Over the past two years The Smile Train has provided free training and education for more than 1,500 Chinese doctors. In-country training is a critical component of The Smile Train program which is built around empowering local doctors to provide treatment.

"These doctors are the real heroes of The Smile Train," said Wang. "I feel honored to meet them and certainly The Smile Train is very lucky to attract such talented and committed individuals. These 12 doctors will go on to change the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of children over their careers. That's why our focus on training, and our strategy of investing in people as much as programs, is what The Smile Train is all about. Long after The Smile Train has left, doctors we have trained will be helping children like Meiling. I can think of no better legacy than that."

About Smile Train

The Smile Train (http://www.smiletrain.org) is a non-profit organization launched in 1998. Its goal is to eradicate the global problem of cleft lips and palates. The Smile Train's comprehensive approach to the problem of clefts involves free training for doctors, free surgery for children and research to find a cure. It is supported by thousands of individuals and private foundations and does not receive any governmental funding.

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Date:Aug 7, 2001
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