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Pharaoh Tutankhamun – The oldest (and most famous?) known cleft patient?

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The ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died in 1324 BC, is a historical figure known to many for the sensational artwork found in his tomb, including a spectacular death mask. What is less well known is that the young deceased was also a cleft palate patient. Scientists also found traces of a cleft palate on his body, which was very well preserved due to Egyptian mummification techniques.

An exciting overview not only of the medical history of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, but also of the very early history of cleft surgery can be found in a fascinating article (hosted by the Saxon State Medical Association) from the German medical professional periodical Ärzteblatt by Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr. Niels Christian Pausch of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Maxillofacial and Plastic Surgery of the University Hospital Leipzig and Dr. Franziska Naether of the Egyptological Institute of the University of Leipzig.

A promising treatment for his cleft palate was unfortunately not available to Pharaoh Tutankhamun during his lifetime, even as the most powerful man in Egypt. Therefore, he probably suffered from severe impairments in his everyday life such as speech problems, problems with eating, chronic painful ear infections, etc., just like our little patients do before they receive their surgery. Today, fortunately, even children from the poorest families have access to qualified treatment for their cleft lip and palate thanks to our donors.

Image credit: Wikipedia user Djehouty under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

From our projects
The story of Maui, cleft child from Colombia
Our new project to help children with cleft lip and palate in Colombia begins with a very unusual case. Maui was born with a cleft lip and palate. His parents belong to an indigenous people and do not know how to get him the help he needs. By a happy coincidence, Julia, a Swiss woman living in Colombia, is a neighbor of the family and offers to help. In search of treatment options, she comes across Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe.
Video: Impressions from Bolivia
The parents of our cleft children are always full of gratitude. When their child is born with cleft, they often do not know what to make of the malformation, much less that it can be treated. And even if they do - most of our little patients come from the poorest of backgrounds. Their parents could never afford the operation. It is an unimaginable happiness for them to learn that their children can receive qualified treatment, and free of charge even. This wonderful, touching film from our Bolivian aid project captures these special moments of happiness.
Video: Impressions from Pakistan
This film, made for our Pakistani partner organization, the Al-Mustafa Welfare Societey, by the father of one of our patients, shows scenes from our work in Karachi. From here, our senior surgeon Prof. Ashraf Ganatra treats cleft children from poorest families. He operates the children from Karachi at the Al Mustafa Medical Center. In order to reach the many needy families living outside the city, he also regularly heads out to local provincial hospitals to treat cleft patients there.