Frequently Asked Questions


Donations from New Zealand and the USA are fully tax deducible. Donors from the UK can obtain tax deductions by gifting through Stewardship and quoting our Sovereign Account Number: 20096960 (http://www.stewardship.org.uk/)

Any money donated for a specific purpose is entirely allocated to that purpose and will not be redirected. Any money provided as a general donation is put where it is most needed. For example, we have children living at the Ruel House who need clothing and food. Most Ruel Foundation staff serve as volunteers and overheads are kept to a minimum. We encourage you to visit the NZ Charities website and view our Annual Report which has all of our financial information publicly available.

The Ruel Foundation funds surgeries for children aged 1-14 years (exceptions are made from time to time) with obvious physical deformities that have a significant impact on the child's health and/or social development and who do not have access to free healthcare. The Ruel Foundation also has a Children's Home that takes in malnourished and/or abused children who are in life threatening situations and require temporary care. These children are returned to their families (if possible) or signed over for adoption

Cleft lip or cleft palate is a developmental problem (usually in babies) where the upper lip or palate (roof of the mouth) is not correctly joined, leading to a gap in either the palate or lip and palate. The terms hare lip or hair lip (common misspelling of the previous) are sometimes used colloquially to describe the condition because of the resemblance of a hare's lip. A cleft lip can range from a simple notch in the upper lip to a complete gap in the lip running into the floor of the nostril. The upper gum may also be involved. This may occur on just one side (unilateral cleft) or both sides (bilateral cleft). Cleft palate may involve only the soft palate at the back of the mouth or may run forwards through the bone of the hard palate. As with the lip, one or both sides may be affected. Approximately one in 700 babies in the developed world suffers from cleft lip and palate or cleft palate. Around 70% of babies with cleft lips also have cleft palates. These problems are present more in males than females. A child with a cleft lip or palate is unable to eat or swallow. This leads to poor nutrition, which if untreated - can result in death from malnutrition. Their ability to talk is also affected, making communication with family and friends very difficult. Sadly, they are often ridiculed and may even be abandoned by their family.

When a child is called up for surgery, they go for a pre-operation check. Sometimes they are not well enough to then proceed with the surgery, so are required to wait for the next intake. In other instances they have to travel a great distance and don't have the funds for travel. We often provide money for this but occasionally, it is spent on more pressing needs. Sometimes the parents or grandparents change their mind about proceeding with the surgery and this will often involve more follow up visits to see if we can persuade them to go ahead. We even have parents who say they will attend but don't turn up on the day. We try our best using all of our resources to make sure all children get the surgery they need.

Currently we estimate the cost for a patient to be around NZ$250. However, this cost can vary greatly depending on the specific surgical needs of the individual child and the complications that sometimes arise. This figure is adjusted on an annual basis to allow for any changes in circumstances and associated costs. This figure includes pre-operation checks, x-rays, medication and transportation to and from medical facilities, as well as post-operation follow up. Costs for other patients with physical deformities can range from NZ$250 - $3000.

It is not entirely clear why this happens in some babies but cleft lip and cleft palate is often present in families, suggesting that it's likely to be genetic. If a person is born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, the chances of that person giving birth to a child with a cleft lip and cleft palate (given no other obvious factor), rises to 1 in 14, as opposed to 1 in 700. Other possible causes include infection during pregnancy, smoking and or alcohol use during pregnancy and deficiency of the B vitamin folic acid, which is found in many fruits and vegetables. The exact cause of cleft lip and cleft palate is still unknown and the topic is still being debated today.

Hydrocephalus - occurs when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain which causes the head to swell. Meningocele (Nasoethmoidal) – occurs when a defect in the skull allows a cyst to form which fills with cerebrospinal fluid. Non-malignant tumours - Tumour literally means ‘swelling’ and this is how it is often referred to today. However, the term is now primarily used to denote abnormal growth of tissue. This growth can be either malignant or benign (non-malignant.) Malignant tumours are cancerous. Cancer has the potential to invade and destroy neighbouring tissues. Benign tumours do not invade neighbouring tissues but may grow locally to a size of significance. However, these benign tumours tend not to return following surgical removal. Clubfoot - a birth defect. This is where the foot is twisted inwards and downwards. Without treatment, persons affected often appear to walk on their ankles or on the sides of their feet. It is the most common birth defect, occurring in approximately one to two per 1000 live births. Approximately half the cases of clubfoot are bilateral (both feet). Untreated injuries - where a child has been injured in some way, but through lack of ability to reach medical facilities, has never had the injury treated. One example is a child left with an eye infection that may cause them to lose sight in that eye.