Q&A

What is a cleft lip and cleft palate?

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. 

How does Operation Smile differ in their approach to treating children with cleft conditions around the world?

Not every country or community around the world is the same. That's why the Operation Smile works world-wide with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals and other NGOs to create various models of surgical care. Together, they determine which solutions work best in order to reach as many children as possible wherever they work. And they’re going to keep doing this and refining their approach as they move forward. All with the goal to give the most effective surgical care to patients worldwide. 

First and foremost, Operation Smile brings the highest quality of care to every child, every time. They were the first cleft organisation to support the World Health Organisation's Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative. Their Global Standards of Care is their 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.

What does it cost to provide a surgery for a child with a cleft condition?

As little as $500 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, as well as corporations that donate critical supplies and equipment necessary for safe surgery. This cost includes expenses incurred for essential medical team members to be at a medical mission, the expenses for additional required supplies and shipping cargo costs.

Do all surgeries cost $500?

Operation Smile conducts hundreds of medical missions in locations around the world. Every one of those locations is unique. Sometimes they have to import medical equipment and/or import medical expertise which can make providing free surgeries more costly.  Operation Smile works with local medical professionals, governments, hospitals and other NGOs to create various models of surgical care. As a team, they determine which solutions work best in order to reach as many children as possible wherever they work. Operation Smile all has the same goal wherever in the world they operate: 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.

It would be nice to know, for sure, exactly which child I helped. Is there any way I can stay in touch with the child I have assisted?

Operation Smile's goal is to provide life-changing surgery for children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate in remote locations around the world. The focus is on the delivery of free surgery to children, rather than incurring the administrative costs of tracking and following individuals over an extended period of time. To receive treatment, children and families travel great distances to visit the medical mission sites and year-round centers. The post-operative program goes to great lengths to check on the progress of children in the year following their surgery. It is during these visits that Operation Smile is able to capture the photos and stories of how your donations have made a difference. We share these stories in as many ways as possible so that you can feel connected to the children who have received new hope because you care.

Is Operation Smile a religious or faith-based organisation?

Operation Smile is an international medical charity which provides services to children of all faiths. The medical volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and personal beliefs.