What Is Operation Smile? Dr. Goldberg Explains

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We recently asked Dr. Goldberg about his work with Operation Smile in order to better understand what the program is and what it offers. As a Toronto based plastic surgery expert Dr. Cory Goldberg‘s skills can often make a major difference for those people in countries with limited medical services.  

What is Operation Smile?

Dr. Cory Goldberg: Operation Smile is a group that was formed by a plastic surgeon by the name of Dr. Bill Magee and based out of Virginia.  He and his wife, some time ago set up this organization with the intention of providing specifically cleft lip and cleft palette surgery and services to under privileged areas around the world.  The entity has grown significantly since it was originally founded and at this point serves more than 40 countries around the world.  At any given moment there are usually 3 or 4 missions that are going.  The missions are team based which means that it includes surgeons as well as pediatricians, dentists, speech therapists and many others to be able to provide the full complimented care that children with cleft lips and palettes need.  A mission will typically last about 10-14 days, and during that period of time in each location, the patients are screened and accessed for surgery by the entire team and then they go through their surgery and the recovery before they are then discharged.  Each location has a local representations from Operation Smile as well, both administrative and medical staff so that even after a mission is finished, there’s still ongoing care for those patients so they are followed and ongoing care is carried out.

Where have you travelled for Operation Smile?

Dr. Cory Goldberg: I’ve been on missions to Cambodia, and to Egypt.  I’m hopeful to be able to go on a mission in the next year, likely in South American.

How can a new smile change somebody’s life?

Dr. Cory Goldberg: Facial differences have tremendous impact on children in every aspect of their life from the education to the social components of their development.  Cleft lips in particular are a very significant stigma that children live with that severely disables them.  Unfortunately in many places around the world this very simple operation can’t be offered simply because there are no facilities or medical staff capable of doing it.  By providing a repair of the cleft lip it can change a child from having very little potential future, both from a social and economic point of view to being a perfectly normal, well adjusted child with the capability of developing into a happy, healthy adult.

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