Plastic Surgery Hub supports Operation Smile Australia, and for good reason. The charity provides craniofacial surgery to disadvantaged children and young people in the developing world. Why? A child somewhere in the world is born with a cleft every three minutes: a staggering statistic. For children born in countries like Australia who have access to skilled doctors and medical care, this condition is easily treatable, and they generally go on to live healthy, normal lives. However, for those born in countries without such medical expertise, a cleft lip or cleft palate can lead to difficulties with speech, eating, hearing and breathing, and can often become life-threatening.
Operation Smile sends skilled and passionate volunteers to such countries to provide free craniofacial surgery to thousands of children ever year: over 220,000 can now smile because of Operation Smile, and that number continues to grow on nearly a daily basis. The organisation leads the research into the causes of cleft condition along with their prevention, treatment and eradication. It also trains local doctors and healthcare providers in countries all around the world in order to improve the long-term medical care available for future generations.
In addition to providing a valuable medical service to those in need, Operation Smile ensures each child and young adult who comes away with a new smile also comes away with a brighter future. Rather than be shunned and hidden away from the world, these individuals can now face it – with a smile.
The force behind the creation of the Australian arm of Operation Smile is Dr Richard Lewandowski and his wife, Sue. A well-respected craniofacial and reconstructive surgeon from Brisbane, Dr Lewandowski initially volunteered with the International arm of Operation Smile and realised that he was in a position to assist with bringing Operation Smile to children in South East Asia through establishing an Australian branch of the charity.
Each mission requires a huge amount of coordination, and includes volunteers from all over the world as well as local medical personnel. Volunteers work tirelessly to provide training to local medical practitioners in order for them to continue their life-changing work long after the mission is over.
So many plastic and reconstructive surgeons dedicate their time and money to Operation Smile, but few ask for or expect any recognition or acknowledgement. For Operation Smile to operate its many missions, it has dozens of doctors, nurses, anaesthetists and other amazing volunteers to call upon, not to mention a strong supporter base who provide fantastic financial and organisational support. We think each and every one of them deserves a shout out and we encourage each of you in a position to do so, to donate to this extremely worthwhile cause.