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UCLA Faculty Member, Mary Keyes, MD, Participates in “Operation Smile” in Manila, Philippines

December 10th, 2012

UCLA Faculty Member, Mary Keyes, MD, Participates in “Operation Smile” in Manila, Philippines
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Mary Keyes, MD, providing mask anesthesia for a child having cleft palate surgery, while another "Operation Smile" volunteer, Marina Sammartino, MD, from Italy, is placing the intravenous catheter.

“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.

Mary Keyes, MD, charting the anesthetic course for a child having bilateral cleft lip repair.  For this surgery, the surgeons stand at the head of the OR table, after the child has been anesthetized and the breathing tube is safely in place.
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Mary Keyes, MD, charting the anesthetic course for a child having bilateral cleft lip repair.  For this surgery, the surgeons stand at the head of the OR table, after the child has been anesthetized and the breathing tube is safely in place.

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.

More Photos

Two older patients awaiting cleft lip revisions standing in the improvised preop holding area.
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Two older patients awaiting cleft lip revisions standing in the improvised preop holding area.
A typical operating room is set up for
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A typical operating room is set up for "Operation Smile" with two OR table in the room.  Simultaneous surgeries permits sharing of nursing staff and decreases wastage of supplies, eg: if only a partial package is needed for one case.  Dr. Keyes from UCLA is visible in the rear of the OR table on the right-side of the photo.




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