Cleft lip and palate deformities are a problem affecting one out of every 500-700 children worldwide. A cleft lip or cleft palate means that the lip, roof of the mouth, or soft tissue in the back of the mouth has an opening. These openings are often accompanied by similar openings in the bones of the upper jaw or gum. A cleft deformity is a congenital defect with an unknown cause. In the United States and other countries, cleft deformities are mended in early infancy. However, many countries do not have the resources or the opportunity to repair cleft lip and palate deformities. That’s where Operation Smile comes in: an organization dedicated to repairing cleft lip and palate deformities in countries around the world.
Operation Smile is a worldwide medical charity that operates in over 50 countries. Credentialed medical professional volunteers including plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, and nurses, travel to foreign countries to perform cleft lip and palate repair surgeries and offer follow-up care. In a single trip, the volunteer team screens patients and performs surgeries on hundreds of patients to repair their cleft lip and palate deformities. A cleft lip or palate causes many problems with daily life that are difficult to live with. Problems eating, properly forming speech, ear disease, and dental issues are just a few of the physical side effects caused by a cleft lip and/or palate. With these physical problems comes intense emotional trauma. The surgery gives patients the chance to live without the physical and emotional hardships of cleft deformities. It is an opportunity that most patients have only dreamed of.
Operation Smile strives to give every person born with cleft palate and lip deformities the gift of a beautiful, healthy smile. Dr. John Wakelin of Columbus Aesthetic & Plastic Surgery is proud to have taken a trip to Morocco with Operation Smile and been an instrumental part of giving patients a life without cleft deformities. Because Operation Smile is a volunteer charity, it wouldn’t be possible to transform as many lives without the help of generous donors. To find out more information on the organization and to donate, visit www.operationsmile.org.