Our programs worldwide go well beyond the medical mission.
"EVERYWHERE WE TURNED
... People pushed their babies at us, tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes
and begged us to help
- Kathleen Magee, Operation Smile
Co-founder & President
Operation Smile was founded in 1982 when Dr. William (Bill) P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen (Kathy), a nurse and clinical social worker, traveled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children's cleft lips and cleft palates.
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.
Today, Operation Smile is an international medical charity with a presence in more than 60 countries, whose global network of thousands of credentialed medical volunteers from over 80 countries is committed to helping improve the health and lives of children. For more than 30 years we've worked with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals and other NGOs to deliver the safest care to each of our patients and have established care centers wherever possible to give children ongoing medical treatment. Operation Smile continues to deliver training and education for local medical professionals so they can provide care within their own communities and share their expertise. To date, we have provided more than 220,000 free surgeries for children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.
"THE NEED IS GREAT ...
we have the courage to take on that challenge. There are not enough human beings to take care of the need ... We have to continue to do more, we have to challenge ourselves to do more.”
-Dr. Bill Magee, Operation Smile
Co-founder & President