Over a period of 24 years Mr Oliver Fenton, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Spire Methley Park Hospital, has worked with a highly skilled team of volunteers including nurses, anaesthetists, orthodontists to treat underprivileged children and adults in Romania.
The charity was originally called Poplars Church Romania, and was established by a husband and wife team, Maureen and Paul Gray. Maureen and her husband had previously adopted two young boys from Romania and while over there they were approached by a wife of a church minister who had the idea to develop a surgical team who could become involved in their project and help treat children with deformities such as cleft palates.
To begin with Maureen and Paul and their charity raised money to bring Romanian children over to the UK for their treatment but found it would more cost effective to go over with a multi skilled team and treat the children in Romania.
Maureen had heard about Mr Fenton and his surgical skill from a friend and contacted him to get involved. In 1993 Mr Fenton agreed to go out with his own team to treat 19 patients; however at the end of the trip he had seen 30 patients.
It was on one of these trips to Romania that Mr Fenton met Minadora Ungreanu and her family. She was 16 months old at the time and had been born with a left unilateral cleft palate which had not been treated previously and was giving her problems feeding. Mr Fenton operated on Minadora and continued her treatment on other visits as she grew older. She had to have an alveolar bone graft as part of her treatment when she was 10 years old to allow her to have orthodontic treatment to align her teeth as she got older. However, her initial bone graft didn’t take well which meant she would need a second bone graft before orthodontic work could take place.
Earlier this year Maureen contacted Mr Fenton to put Minadora forward as a special case so she could come over to the UK for further surgical and work as no team was visiting Romania in 2014. Mr Fenton, with the help of the Wakefield Chantry Rotary Club, raised the money for her orthodontic work to be carried out back in Romania and Spire Methley Park Hospital offered to treat Minadora at no cost to help her achieve her final result.
Enjoying London: Minadora and her Mum during her recovery following her surgery earlier this year.
Minadora, now aged 20, came across to the UK where her and her family stayed with a couple called Steve and Joy Winks, and she had a second alveolar bone graft, and some more work on her nose to give her a more symmetrical result.
Maureen says “The outcome for Minadora was amazing, the symmetry in her features is brilliant now and to see pictures of her smiling warmed my heart. I have gotten to know her and her family over the last 20 years and helping them has been such a special experience.”