Patient Stories

“Mummy, what happened?”

At school Rina was bullied so badly for her cleft lip and palate that she refused to go back. An Operation Smile medical mission in Cavite changed her life forever.

Ngan's story

In Vietnamese, Ngan’s name means “star,” but she wasn’t able to smile brightly when she was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. 10 year after she received life-changing surgery at an Operation Smile mission, Ngan is a happy, healthy, vibrant girl

A World Smile Day Story

Michael's mother, Filicia, overcame cultural, financial and physical barriers to seek cleft lip surgery for her 15-month-old son.

A Landmark Patient

During a surgical training rotation, Tsifoina became the 2,500th patient to be operated on by Operation Smile in Madagascar.

To Heal and to Comfort

In the local language, Mampionona's name means "to heal and to comfort." At an Operation Smile surgical training rotation, the 10-year-old boy received both.

Table 6: the table of anguish

On every mission, after screening comes announcement day. Table 6 is where families were sent to be gently told that their child would not receive surgery this time.

Thriving Thanks to Timely Surgery
South Africa

Lungile's mother feared that it would take years for her daughter to receive cleft lip surgery before she met an Operation Smile South Africa volunteer.

Overcoming Her Obstacles

Though Nazifa now has a beautiful new smile, her journey in accessing cleft care was anything but easy.

Enok's Path

Enok remembers being jeered, mocked, chased by packs of children and having people recoil in disgust at his cleft lip. While his memories echo the stories of thousands of Operation Smile patients – most young children – Enok already endured a lifetime of torment when he received surgery at 25 years old.

A Newfound Confidence

Since 21-year-old Virgilio’s severe bilateral cleft lip was repaired during Operation Smile’s August 2015 medical mission to Puebla, Mexico; her son has experienced a dramatic transformation which extends well beyond his surgical result.


“Every child that has a facial deformity is our responsibility. If we don’t take care of that child, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.”

- Kathy Magee, Operation Smile Co-founder and President