A Letter From Our Co-Founders
Dear Friends and Supporters,
When we first traveled to the Philippines in 1982, hundreds of children and their parents approached us in tears. Immediately, our hearts shattered. The small medical mission we were with could only provide surgery for 40 children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. Without a plan to return, the anguish we saw in their eyes was unforgettable.
We didn’t have a grand plan at the time, but we knew we had so much more to give. It was then that we made a promise to return. That promise became a commitment to provide safe surgical care for people in places of need. Courage was needed to take on this challenge. As that courage was catalyzed by caring people all over the world, Operation Smile came to life.
In the 35 years since, we’ve delivered hundreds of thousands of life-saving surgeries provided by compassionate medical volunteers and caring donors from around the world. Why go to these lengths? We believe that patients and their families deserve excellence in surgical care, no matter where they call home. Through each new smile, shame is replaced by confidence. Rejection is replaced by acceptance. Fear is replaced by love.
Our story started with courage, and courage is still needed to ensure a world where dignity and health are improved by safe surgical care. Through our expertise in treating cleft conditions, we are poised to bring this vision to more people and more places than ever before. We’re excited to share the highlights and milestones that Operation Smile was able to achieve in 2017 and hope you’re as inspired by them as we are.
Thank you for your continued support, generosity and compassion.
I Deserve To Be Called By My Name
Through our expertise in treating cleft lip and cleft palate, we create solutions that deliver safe surgery to people where it’s needed most.
No one should have to live with the burden of an untreated cleft lip or cleft palate. Yet in all too many places around the world, surgery is inaccessible or unavailable. That’s what drives our volunteers and staff to bring the highest quality of care to our patients at our care locations and medical missions. We create lasting impacts not only on the people we serve, but on entire health systems through our model of comprehensive cleft care and training and education programs.
This is how we’re changing the world.
Discovering the Causes of Cleft
The high concentration of cleft cases in Loraine’s family piqued the interest of Operation Smile researchers conducting the International Family Study (IFS) in Cebu, Philippines. The first study of its kind, the IFS blends data from genetic analysis of patients, families and control groups with questionnaire findings about environmental exposures and lifestyle habits. The ultimate goal is to put this evidence into action to prevent cleft conditions before they develop in the womb. Photo: Jörgen Hildebrandt.
Achieving Safe, Effective and Timely Surgery in Honduras
Everywhere we work, we provide safe cleft surgery for every adult, teen and child in need. Once those who are waiting receive surgery, the remaining patients are newborn babies. We work to provide surgery as soon as a patient is old enough and healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
Thanks to the achievements of our programs last year, we’re proud to report that this is now a reality in Honduras. Every baby born in the country will receive cleft care that’s SET: safe, effective and timely.
On May 11, 2017, Operation Smile Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Bill Magee made this historic announcement alongside the President and First Lady of Honduras.
Supported by medical missions and the ongoing care provided at Operation Smile Honduras’ care center, a strategy was put into motion to identify and recruit potential patients, many of them among the poorest and hardest-to-reach in the country.
The effort was successful, and we then determined that nearly all of Honduras’ adults, teens and children with untreated cleft conditions had received the surgery they always deserved.
We hold ourselves accountable to the trust you place in our work to improve health and dignity through safe, effective and timely surgery.
Committed to being the best steward of your gifts, we direct funds to programs that bring the highest standards of care to people living with cleft and other facial and dental conditions. Our stringent medical standards require the purchase of high-quality, and therefore high-cost, medical supplies, which are then shipped worldwide to our program sites. We send skilled medical and nonmedical volunteers to the patients who need them. By training and credentialing local medical professionals, we empower them to deliver world-class care where they live. For patients and families facing financial hardship in order to attend our programs, we cover the costs of transportation, lodging and food. By partnering with national governments and other organizations, we’re working toward long-term health system improvements so that future generations can receive care in their communities. It’s our honor participate on the world stage of surgical innovation and excellence to raise awareness about cleft conditions, safe surgery and the need for more equitable health services globally. Most importantly, we pride ourselves on following the highest standards of accountability, effectiveness and efficiency.
Board of Directors and Officers
Photo and Video Credits
We work with an incredible group of visual artists who connect global audiences to the heart of each story we tell.
Their approach to portraying the beauty and dignity of patients, the passion of volunteers and supporters, and the orchestration of our medical programs allows us to experience an indelible memory in the moment that the video or photo is captured, no matter where we are in the world.
Marc Ascher, Oli Cohen, Steve Cachero, Bobby Cullipher, Manuela Emmer, Paulo Fabre, Martin Flink, Jörgen Hildebrandt, Markus Jordö, Markus Junghard, George Knowles, Zute Lightfoot, Thapelo Matsumi, Rohanna Mertens, Margherita Mirabella, Samuel Nilsson, Carlos Rueda, Jasmin Shah, Peter Stuckings, Reynaldo Ortiz Toledo, Kristy Walker, Justin Weiler, Beny Zambrano and Epidemic Sound.