When Kyanna Chong was born in 2005, she had a complete cleft lip and palate - a condition where the lip and mouth do not form properly, leaving a gap.
Since she was about three months old, she has had several operations at KK Women's and Children's Hospital's Cleft and Craniofacial Centre (CCRC). In her latest operation just last month, surgeons took some soft bone from her hip to fill a gap in her gum.
The journey has been long, but her mother, Ms Lim May Lan, said at the centre's 10th anniversary celebration yesterday at United Square Shopping Mall in Novena that "all these years, the care provided by the staff has been very good and reassuring".
Ms Lim, 44, an administrator, said: "They ensure that we are prepared, but they don't overload us with information. Every time we see the doctor, he makes sure that he gives us time to clear our doubts."
Kyanna, who is in Primary 4 and an assistant band major at Rosyth School, added that the operations "have not been as painful as I thought they would be".
PROPER PREPARATION BUT NO INFO OVERLOAD
They ensure that we are prepared, but they don't overload us with information. Every time we see the doctor, he makes sure that he gives us time to clear our doubts.
MS LIM MAY LAN, on the "reassuring" care provided by CCRC staff
Over the past decade, the CCRC has increased its number of specialists, including dental surgeons and dermatologists, and treated more paediatric patients.
Aside from cleft lip and palate, the centre also treats hand anomalies, physical defects from trauma and infection, and paediatric burns.
According to the latest statistics, the incidence of cleft lip and palate here fell from 2.07 cases per 1,000 live births between 1985 and 1994, to 1.87 cases per 1,000 live births between 1993 and 2002. The reasons for the decline are unclear.
The CCRC now sees about 80 to 85 new cases each year, which it said is about 90 per cent of the cases in Singapore.
It also sees about 350 to 400 new burn cases each year. The majority of patients who are children are six months to two years old, and 90 per cent of these cases are due to scalds from hot liquid spills.
Dr Por Yong Chen, the centre's director, said: "In the next 10, 20, 30 years and beyond, we want to continue our exemplary work and make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families."