Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. Heal smiles worldwide
What they found was overwhelming. "People pushed their babies at us." recalls Kathy. "They tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes and begged us to help their children." In Naga City, approximately 300 families arrived hoping their children would receive surgery, but the team could only treat 40 children. As they prepared to leave, the Magees made a promise they would return to help more children.
They began soliciting donations of surgical equipment and supplies from manufacturers, threw themselves into grassroots fundraising and assembled a volunteer team of 18 doctors, nurses and technicians for their own medical mission to the Philippines. They helped approximately 100 more patients, but again, hundreds still waited.
They saw the need and Operation Smile was born.
Today, Operation Smile is an international medical charity whose global network of thousands of credentialed medical volunteers from more than 80 countries is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children from more than 60 countries. We've provided more than 220,000 free surgical procedures for children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. To build long-term sufficiency in resource poor environments, we train doctors and local medical professionals in our partner countries so they're empowered to treat their local communities. We also donate medical equipment and supplies and provide year-round medical treatments through our worldwide centers.
Children deserve access to the very best care available. At Operation Smile that’s what we believe, that’s where we start.
Not every country or community around the world is the same. That's why we work with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals and other NGOs to create various models of surgical care. Together, we determine which solutions work best in order to reach as many children as possible wherever we work. And we’re going to keep doing this and refining our approach as we move forward. All with the goal to give the most effective surgical care to patients worldwide. Because at the end of the day, it starts with the patient. It starts with the child.