In the News
UCLA Faculty Member, Mary Keyes, MD, Participates in â€œOperation Smileâ€ in Manila, PhilippinesDecember 10th, 2012
“Operation Smile” began in the Philippines in 1982 when plastic surgeon Dr. Bill Magee, and his wife Kathy went for a one-time medical mission to Naga City. Three hundred families travelled to the site hoping to receive reconstructive surgery for their children. The Magees and the team were only able to provide 40 surgeries during this time. Recognizing the staggering need, “Operation Smile” was born.
In celebration of “Operation Smile’s” 30th anniversary this year, the organization marked the occasion with a homecoming medical mission to the Philippines named “The Journey Home.” Ten simultaneous missions were conducted throughout the country in November resulting in over 1,200 surgeries performed, and thousands more medical, dental, and speech evaluations. Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology Mary Keyes, MD, participated in this mission in Manila where 270 patients were screened, and 120 underwent surgery.
Dr. Keyes and Dr. Judith Brill, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Anesthesiology, have participated throughout the world on many “Operation Smile” missions in countries such as Vietnam, Laos, China, Cambodia, Kenya, and throughout South America. The host city in each country provides the medical facility. “Operation Smile” ships in their own anesthesia and surgical equipment that is in keeping with standards in its home country.
Anesthesiologists and residents in Anesthesiology may apply online to participate in a mission through the “Operation Smile” website: operationsmile.org. Residents are eligible to apply for the Regan fellowship that provides sponsorship for much of the associated cost. Other volunteers include plastic surgeons, dentists, nurses, speech pathologists, child-life specialists, medical record personnel, and photographers. In all, there are usually about 50 people per mission team that last 10 days. Accommodations are provided by “Operation Smile” at a hotel as close to the hospital as possible.
In a span of 30 years, “Operation Smile” has provided comprehensive healthcare evaluations for more than 2 million patients and performed over 200,000 surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips and palates, and other facial deformities worldwide. It is an extraordinary experience to be part of one of these missions.
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