Kristiyana: How a Two-Hour Surgery Changed a Little Girl's Life

For Kristiyana’s family, Smile Train opened new opportunities for happier lives

Kristiyana smelling a rose

Coming from the same small town, Aleksandra and Krasimir have known each other since they were young.

As time went by, their relationship progressed, and eventually, they decided to start a family together.

When Aleksandra learned that she was pregnant, her family had a small celebration. Having a child together was a dream for both Aleksandra and Krasimir, and they couldn’t wait for the day they would hold their baby in their arms.

Kristiyana with her mother Aleksandra
Kristiyana with Aleksandra

A few months later, Kristiyana was born with a cleft. Her parents had no idea; they had never even seen a cleft before.

“I felt a shock wave, like a hit out of the blue,” Aleksandra said.

The doctors at the birth unit were also shocked. Unfortunately, the hospital didn’t have the best equipment and facilities to help the baby.

In light of the news, some people around the family suggested that they should leave Kristiyana at an orphanage. But Aleksandra and Krasimir refused. They would not abandon their baby, and they would do their best for her.

Still, they didn’t know how they would ever afford the treatment Kristiyana needed.

Thankfully, she was soon transferred to the Medical University of Plovdiv, a Smile Train partner.

Kristiyana with Krasimir
Kristiyana with Krasimir

Life with Smile Train

There, Aleksandra and Krasimir connected with Dr. Youri Anastassov and his team

Dr. Anastassov explained Smile Train to the family and reassured them that all treatments and surgeries Kristiyana needed would be free. This news was a huge relief for Aleksandra and Krasmir.

“This is the best team with the best nurses, the best doctors, and the best attitude I have ever met in my life,” Aleksandra praised.

In 2016, at three months old, Kristiyana had her first surgery.

To pass the time while his baby was in the OR, Krasimir counted. The surgery happened in two hours and 40 minutes. The hours felt long and suffocating, but the surgery was successful.

When Kristiyana finally exited from the surgery room, Aleksandra and Krasimir couldn’t contain their surprise. She looked like a different baby. They considered the result perfect.

They couldn’t believe that just one surgery could make such a big difference.

Kristiyana before and after
Kristiyana before and after cleft surgery

Six months later, Kristiyana had her second surgery. This time, both parents felt calmer and more prepared. Like the first, it was efficient and successful. Kristiyana healed quickly.

At the age of two, Kristiyana started speech therapy, also sponsored by Smile Train.

“Many things are ahead of us, but I’m confident the worst is behind our backs. Whatever happens next, it will not be as hard as until now,” Aleksandra said.

Kristiyana's Dreams

Kristiyana has grown into a curious and open-minded child with a bright soul.

She will start first grade in September, and like many children, she has many ambitions to pursue.

One of her dreams is to become a hairdresser; she is already practicing her skills with her mother’s hair.

Thinking back, Aleksandra realizes that Kristiyana would not have such a wonderful and happy childhood without the help of Dr. Anastassov, his team, and Smile Train.

Kristiyana with her entire family
Kristiyana with her entire family

Help more children like Kristiyana live a better and happier life.

Donate now

Our impact in Bulgaria

as of August 2022


cleft surgeries sponsored since 2002


active partner surgeons


active partner hospital