Operation Smile (Australia) Ltd

International craniofacial surgery mission, Philippines

Operation Smile Australia is a medical services organisation offering free corrective surgery to children and young adults born with facial deformities in developing countries.

The LUCRF Super Community Program was proud to support Operation Smile Australia’s 2012 missions to the Philippines. A team of 12 Australian volunteer medical professionals visited four sites across the country in two waves, undertaking 542 full medical evaluations and 669 surgical procedures.

This was part of a larger-scale set of missions which visited nine cities, provided over 8,000 medical evaluations, 6,110 dental treatments and 1,219 reconstructive surgeries in only 30 days. A mammoth effort with assistance from many countries, the statistics display the huge impact made. More than half of the operations completed were performed by teams which included volunteers funded by the Trust.

Operation SmileDubbed “The Journey Home”, the mission not only created new smiles, it enabled children to undergo complete medical check-ups and dental treatment. In a culture that attaches a stigma to any deformity, these types of surgeries are truly life changing. 

Additionally, education is an important part of these missions, with the Australian team working alongside local medical volunteers to provide surgical training on the ground. By offering this training, the legacy of the team’s work has remained long after they’ve departed.

Maia’s story

Jean and Shawn learned that their daughter, Maia, was not going to be the perfectly formed baby that they hoped for when an ultrasound taken during Jean’s pregnancy showed that the baby’s mouth was broken. Jean cried every day until Maia was born and even when she saw her daughter in the flesh, she still had great difficulty accepting her. Jean’s uncle then told her about the wonderful work of Operation Smile. 

When Jean and Shawn arrived at the hospital to discuss Maia’s condition, they realised that there were many other children and even adults like Maia and they were grateful that Maia’s cleft was comparatively small. They were overjoyed to hear that Maia was cleared and scheduled for surgery. Jean and Shawn waited anxiously while Maia’s surgical procedure took place, until they were called into the recovery room to hold their daughter as she woke up with her beautiful new smile.

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