With more than a hundred thousand children with cleft palates and cleft lips treated all across the globe, Operation Smile clearly demonstrates that no other field of specialization could approach what plastic surgery can do in reconstructing patients, that is, restoring dignity and inevitably changing lives.
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After twenty five years of putting smiles on children with palate and lip problems, more than three hundred plastic surgeons gathered recently to lend their services and their expertise to the WJOS or the World Journey of Smiles.
The WJOS is a unique twenty-fifth anniversary effort of the Operation Smile where plastic surgeons in twenty-five countries, along with other medical professionals and general practitioners conducted a series of forty different missions, treating four-thousand, one-hundred and forty-nine children that have facial deformities.
Leading a team in Ecuador is John Canady, MD, the president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a long time volunteer of the Operation Smile project. Together with ASPS Executive Vice President Paul Pomeranze, both plastic surgeons were very much humbled by their experience.
Dr. Canady said, “I have volunteered for Operation Smile for over fifteen years, and throughout this time, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most incredible people all around the world.”
In addition, he stated, “It is an honour to be able to restore the smiles to the faces of both my young patients and their concerned parents. Participating in the World Journey of Smiles here in Ecuador has reconfirmed for me what a positive impact plastic surgeons have on the lives of those who may not otherwise be given this opportunity.”
In general, the World Journey of Smiles in Ecuador has evaluated a hundred and ninety-seven patients, and conducted a hundred and seventy-four procedures and a hundred and seven surgeries. The medical director of the Hospital de los Valles where this mission was held, stated that the mission had served as one great example of how a great teamwork and solidarity can do to patients, setting an impact for the dedicated staff of this very new hospital.
More on Operation Smile
Operation smile was founded in 1982 by Dr. William P. Magee Jr., a licensed plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen, a clinical social worker and nurse. The mission of this children’s medical charity is to help restore childhood facial deformities while creating private and public partnership that strongly advocate for a more sustainable and better healthcare system for children and their families.
The standard International Medical Missions of Operation Smile is mostly composed of a team of licensed medical professional all around the world that voluntarily travel to an Operation Smile partner country just to treat children during a whole two-week period.
In one international mission alone, about five hundred children are able to obtain full medical evaluations and about a hundred to two hundred of them are surgically treated. This international mission is also providing educational opportunities to an in-country healthcare professional. The opportunities normally range from a formal medical seminar to an informal training on particular skills and methods.
Aside from the international missions, there are also year-round local missions that conduct local programs to taking care of more children. Local mission teams are composed of in-country medical volunteers that tirelessly work their way even in secluded areas just to help children.
As this children’s foundation is starting to work towards being self-sustainable, more foundations today now have their own clinics where children can be fully treated all year round. These children receive not only post-operative care but also other consultations like dental health, nutrition, psychology, and speech therapy.
Today, it is very heartening to see plastic surgeons helping these less-fortunate children regain their confidence and dignity. Seeing these children smile is truly fulfilling enough for doctors.