Help and FAQs
Here you’ll find some freqently asked questions about Operation Smile, our work, and cleft conditions. There’s also information about our medical programmes and volunteers, as well as how to leave a legacy gift in your will. Just choose a topic from the bar below to learn more.
Unfortunately we have extremely limited opportunities for non-medical volunteers to participate on a programme. However, our ability to assist patients around the world depends on the efforts of many volunteers and donors here at home who raise awareness and funds for Operation Smile. While we might not be able to place you on a programme team if you do not fit the criteria for credentialing, we can use your skills in other ways.
If you would like to get involved as an advocate for Operation Smile within your community, please contact our fundraising team at 1800 849 061 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Students are a valuable part of many Operation Smile programmes. For more information about becoming a student volunteer, please contact our team at 1800 849 061 or by email at email@example.com
If you are a resident in your final year of study of plastic and reconstructive surgery, anaesthesia, or paediatrics you may be eligible to apply for our Resident Leadership Programme. This programme allows residents to experience a mission under the supervision of a mentor.
Unfortunately we do not have the means to facilitate elective placements. At the moment, we are only able to offer fellowships through our Resident Leadership Programme for trainees who are in their final year of study in plastic surgery, anaesthesia, or paediatrics.
There is a €300 team fee required of all medical volunteers for each programme attended. This team fee covers the volunteer’s airfare, lodging, ground transportation (to/from the airport and to/from the hospital), and breakfast and lunch every day of the programme.
Programmes are usually 10 days long but may at times require additional travel time to get to/from the programme site. Volunteers are financially responsible for any costs incurred for visas, immunisations, checked baggage, dinners during the programme, and any other incidentals like phone/internet charges at the hotel, taxis, souvenirs, etc.
A member of the volunteering team will be in touch with you to coordinate your availability with our programme needs.
Please bear in mind that to be in compliance with Operation Smile’s Global Standards of Care, programme teams must have a balance of new and experienced Operation Smile volunteers.
This means that there may be fewer positions available in each specialty for new volunteers throughout the year, but we will do our best to get you on your first programme as soon as possible.
Once you have been confirmed to a programme, we will send you all information providing all necessary details regarding the programme. There are also forms that must be read, signed and returned. Volunteers will be advised of the expectations well in advance.
Processing a new volunteer application can take between 12-24 weeks on average.
You can start by completing the form to register your interest. A member of the team will get in touch to discuss if there are any volunteering opportunities that match your speciality.
If we are recruiting for your medical specialty, you will need to complete a volunteer application form and included any supporting documentation, each application is reviewed to ensure that we continue to provide the best clinical care possible to every patient.
The application will then be sent to our headquarters office in the US to be approved and credentialed. If you have any questions please feel free to contact our volunteers department at 1800 849 061 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All of the medical specialties accepted are based upon clinical experience and education.
Paediatric experience is required and our nurses must have experience working in a medical/surgical Unit, PICU, NICU, PACU, operating theatre, or A&E during the past two years.
Operation Smile adheres to Global Standards of Care and ensuring the safety of our volunteers and patients is of the utmost importance. Therefore we require our medical volunteers be active in their profession. We will accept retirees for up to two-years post retirement as long as the credentials are current and some form of education and applicable work (if only part-time) is continued.
While ODPs play an important role in patient care in Ireland, unfortunately licensing requirements from other countries preclude us from having ODPs in our programmes at this time.
In recent years our demand for international dental volunteers has decreased significantly due to successful training initiatives for local dental volunteers across our programme countries.
While it is a testament to our sustainable development strategy, unfortunately it does mean that we are currently unable to accept dental applications.
We utilise medical volunteers in the following roles: anaesthetists/paediatric anaesthetists, operating theatre, recovery room and pre/post-operative nurses, paediatricians, surgeons (plastic, oral maxillofacial, and cleft), paediatric cardiologists, paediatric intensivists and neonatologists. We also accept certified child life specialists/hospital play specialists, speech and language therapists, and biomed technicians. Areas such as administration, clinics, OB, psychology and schools generally do not meet this criteria.
Operation Smile’s goal is to provide life-changing surgery for children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate and we have chosen to focus on the delivery of free surgery to children. The costs of administration when matching a donor with a child are high especially when tracking and following individuals over an extended period of time.
We are committed to helping as many children as possible and regularly take pictures and stories as part of our post-operative programme when we check on the progress of children in the year following their surgery. We will regularly share these stories and images with supporters so they can feel connected to the children whose lives they have helped transform.
If you’d like to receive these updates, please sign-up to Smile report and we will send you smiles every month.
While we are very grateful for any donations we receive, we prefer that funds are not restricted to an specific country or project. This enables us to send money to where it is needed the most and helps to keep administration costs low.
If you would like to donate to a specific project or country we can, of course, usually accommodate this. Please call us on 1800 849 061 and we will happily discuss the options available with you.
We do not receive any government funding and our work is only made possible because of the support we get from our generous supporters.
Children around the world born with cleft lips and cleft palates have been waiting their whole lives for our help. Your support helps us make a lasting difference to the lives of children, families and communities around the world.
We have over 40 years’ experience in mobilising medical professionals from all over the world to treat children with facial deformities. We bring together the latest, most effective practices and training to deliver safe surgery and the impact of our work is lasting. We leave behind a legacy of trained medical staff, surgical equipment and professional partnerships that work year-round to ensure more children are healed and more lives are changed.
A cleft lip and/or palate is the most common facial birth defect in Ireland, affecting around 1 in every 700 babies.
Children born with clefts in Ireland have the surgery to repair cleft lip in early infancy it is extremely unlikely you’ll see anyone with an unrepaired cleft condition.
Operation Smile conducts hundreds of medical programmes in locations around the world. Every one of those locations is unique.
Sometimes we have to import medical equipment and/or import medical expertise which can make providing free surgeries more costly.
We work with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals and other NGOs to create various models of surgical care. Together, we determine which solutions work best in order to reach as many children as possible wherever we work.
We have the same goal: improve how surgical care is delivered while empowering local communities. As a result of these efforts, Operation Smile’s surgeries are performed by local medical professionals at a greatly reduced cost.
As little as €180 helps provide surgery to a child with a cleft condition. This is possible thanks to the generous contributions of medical professionals, who volunteer their time and expertise. Corporations also donate critical supplies and equipment necessary for safe surgery. This cost includes expenses incurred for essential medical team members to be at a surgical programme, the expenses for additional required supplies and cargo shipping costs.
Not every country or community around the world is the same. That’s why we work with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals and other NGOs to create various models of surgical care. Together, we determine which solutions work best in order to reach as many children as possible wherever we work. And we’re going to keep doing this and refining our approach as we move forward. All with the goal to give the most effective surgical care to patients worldwide.
First and foremost, we bring the highest quality of care to every child, every time. We were the first cleft organisation to support the World Health Organisation’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative. Our Global Standards of Care is our commitment to ensuring that every patient cared for by Operation Smile will benefit from the same sophisticated equipment, procedures and highly trained, credentialed medical professionals, no matter where they receive treatment.
A cleft is a gap in the mouth that didn’t close during the early stages of pregnancy. As a result, children born with a cleft condition may have an opening in the lip or the roof of their mouth – or both. Children can have a unilateral cleft condition, meaning one side of their mouth is affected, or they can have a bilateral cleft condition where both sides of the mouth are affected.
Operation Smile CEO Dr. William P. Magee is the organisation’s Co-Founder, has a 40-year tenure and brings the skills of a tenured plastic surgeon to the position. Dr. Magee oversees a $100 million budget with a global network of offices and programmes in more than 35 countries and 600 full-time global employees. Our website contains the most up-to-date financial reports. If you would like to discuss your concern further, a member of our Supporter care team would be glad to speak with you at 1800 849 061.
A cleft lip and cleft palate is the most common facial birth defect in Ireland, affecting around 1 in every 700 babies. However, most cleft conditions are repaired during early childhood in Ireland due to greater access of surgical intervention and high-quality medical care provided by the HSE. For many of the patients we serve, this same access to care is oftentimes nonexistent in the low- and middle-income countries where they live.
During our last financial year, in Ireland, for every €1 raised, €0.71 was spent on our charitable aims.
We work hard to ensure that all donations are used in the most efficient way and that funds are directed to programmes where they will have the biggest impact on children with cleft conditions. We deeply value the trust our supporters place in our work and are committed to making the most efficient use of our resources.
When you donate Operation Smile you can be confident that your money is funding surgical programmes, training healthcare professionals, and raising awareness of the plight of children with cleft conditions all over the world.
Operation Smile, we are registered with the Charities Regulator (official body in Ireland) https://www.charitiesregulator.ie/en/information-for-the-public/raise-a-concern
The current Board of Directors of Operation Smile Ireland maintains responsibility for governance and administrative issues. They also provide leadership and open doors for new fundraising opportunities to accelerate the growth of Operation Smile. The Board of Directors is also responsible for signing off our annual, independently audited accounts found in our Financial Information section. All directors are volunteers, and do not receive compensation of any kind.
Operation Smile prides itself in over four decades of experience as one of the largest surgical volunteer-based non-profits.
Operation Smile United Kingdom is a registered charity with the Fundraising Regulator. We have been operating in the UK since 2002.
Globally, Operation Smile has been a registered charity since 1998.
Depending on the type and severity, a cleft condition can create severe health issues for a child if it’s not treated. It’s common for babies to have difficulty with feeding, which can lead to malnutrition or even starvation. Recurring ear infections can occur, which can lead to hearing loss. Jaw and dental development can also be affected.
For people with cleft conditions, especially those with cleft palate, speech and language development can also be hindered. Children may also suffer from bullying and social isolation.
Cleft surgery is vital to ensuring a child will live a happier and healthier life. But it acts as only a single step along the path of a patient’s journey toward healing. This is why the comprehensive care we provide patients after surgery is essential for the people we serve. We do this at our care centres in countries like Morocco, Colombia and India.
No, the Irish National Health Service provides free surgery to children born with facial deformities born in Ireland, including cleft lip and/or cleft palate.
Cleft conditions can, sadly, cause significant health issues and even death. Cleft can cause problems with nursing and feeding, resulting in infants experiencing severe forms of malnourishment. Some babies born with cleft conditions require special feeding plates or bottles to be able to eat and grow. As children age, cleft conditions can cause frequent infections, which can lead to hearing impairment.
We strive to help children born with cleft conditions get the nutrition they need by providing tools, like feeding plates and special bottles, as well as nutrition itself, through ready-to-use therapeutic food. Our work helps children avoid or recover from malnutrition and become healthy enough for a safe surgery.
Yes our legacy booklet, Leave a Smile is available. You can download it or contact our the team on 1800 849 061 or email@example.com.
No, you do not have to tell us but we would be very pleased if you did. Not only would this allow us to plan ahead but it would give us the opportunity to thank you and to discuss with you how you want to hear from us as a supporter of Operation Smile.
We cannot advise you who to use to write your will but we recommend that you go to a solicitor. The Law Society can tell you the name of a solicitor in your area or you may want to ask friends to recommend someone they have used.
You can appoint whoever you like to act as your executor provided they are over 18. You should ask their permission first as it can take a lot of time. You can also appoint a solicitor or other professional but you should remember that they will charge for their services.
Inheritance tax is paid on an estate at 33% on the amount over the inheritance tax limit. Gifts between husband and wife are exempt from tax as are gifts to charity. A legacy to a charity can effectively reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable.
The first step is to talk to a solicitor or other professional Will writer who can help you draw up your Will or change your existing Will with a codicil. This is a short, amending document for making changes to an existing Will. A codicil still needs to be signed and witnessed by two people just like your Will, these must be over 18 years and cannot be family members. Once completed, the codicil must be kept in a safe place together with your will but not attached to it.
It is a good idea to review your Will every few years. Circumstances change, a marriage, a birth, a retirement can mean you have different needs to consider. Or you may simply change your mind about who you want to give to. Small changes can be made by making a codicil.
Making a Will is the only way you can ensure that you can provide for your loved ones after your death in the way you wish. Even if you think you do not have much to leave you may be surprised at how great your assets are and you will save your loved ones from any additional worry at a very difficult time for them.
To ensure we deal with complaints about any of our fundraising activities efficiently and effectively, we follow guidance provided by the Charity Regulator as well as our complaints policy.
If you have a complaint about our fundraising, please call 1800 849 061 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 2 working days. We will then commit to investigating and responding to your complaint as quickly as possible which will include a written response. Following our response, if you are still not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you can contact Charity Regulator and make an official complaint here: https://www.charitiesregulator.ie/en/information-for-the-public/raise-a-concern
Please note you will need a written response from Operation Smile before making a formal complaint to the Fundraising Regulator.
As a Triple Locked Cii Member, Operation Smile holds itself to the highest standard of ethical fundraising, annual reporting, and good governance. Further information can be found here: https://www.charitiesinstituteireland.ie/pages/triple-lock-standard
Talk to us
If you need any further help, our Supporter Care Team is here to answer your questions.
Supporter Care team