I work for Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity and I helped arrange for volunteer Phil McDonald to speak at last week’s Jaw. Phil, who is an anaesthetist and also the charity’s Medical Director, has been volunteering his time and expertise for over 20 years. Phil has travelled all over the world and helped treat thousands of children most of whom are now free of seriously debilitating facial deformities.
170,000 children are born with a cleft lip or palate each year; 70% go untreated. To bridge this gap, Operation Smile send volunteers on missions throughout the year to treat as many patients as possible over a five day period and train local healthcare professionals to continue their work.
Children living with clefts often suffer from infections, malnutrition, breathing difficulties and bullying. Luckily the condition is easily treatable through basic surgery and can take as little as 45 minutes to correct.
The talk ended with a short video showing a mission in Ghana – the reaction of the children and their families really drove home just how important the work Operation Smile is.
By Digby Neave, OB