Our vision

It’s our firm belief that all children deserve access to high-quality cleft care, regardless of where they live. We estimate that there are currently 5 million people with cleft conditions living beyond the reach of existing hospital care – that’s millions of children who need our help to live the happy, healthy lives they deserve.

In the countries where we work, most families are unable access the safe surgery and comprehensive cleft care they need. It’s either too costly, too far away, of inadequate quality, or simply not available at all.

Without treatment, cleft conditions can cause severe health problems which can become fatal. Children who survive often face years of painful bullying and social isolation – that’s why we’re committed to improving access to safe surgery so that it reaches those who need it most.

Antonia after her life changing surgery. Photo: Marc Ascher

Our next decade

As we enter our organisation’s next decade, we have made a commitment to increase access to care for 1 million patients who need cleft care and other essential surgeries, particularly those in remote areas.

We will continue to provide world-class cleft surgery and care in more than 30 counties and invest in 40 hospitals to strengthen local health systems.

To achieve this ambitious goal, we will combine our direct patient care with significant investments in local hospitals and creating long-term partnerships to increase availability of care and provide high quality outcomes for our patients.  Read more about our next decade commitment.

Dr Ampomah providing surgery in Ghana

A global network

With a global network of more than 6000 medical volunteers from across 67 countries, Operation Smile delivers safe surgery, comprehensive cleft care and training programmes all around the world.
Thanks to our generous donors, and valued partners we have provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for children and adults with cleft conditions across the world.

A group of volunteers after a surgical programme

Our history

In 1982, founders Dr. William (Bill) P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife Kathleen (Kathy), a nurse and clinical social worker, travelled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to provide cleft lip and cleft palate surgery. They saw first-hand the overwhelming need for safe, effective surgical care, when around 300 hopeful families arrived seeking help for their children. Sadly the team of medical volunteers could only treat 40 of them, so Bill and Kathy made a promise to return in the future – and Operation Smile was born.

Bill & Kathy Magees with patients