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Operation Smile—Changing Lives One Smile at a Time

Lisa D. Jones
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(3):211. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.3.211.
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In 1982, Bill Magee, a plastic surgeon, and his wife Kathy, a nurse and clinical social worker, joined a group of doctors in the United States going to the Philippines to operate on children suffering from cleft lips and cleft palates. They were not prepared for what they encountered. “People pushed their babies at us, tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes and begged us to help their children,” Kathy recalled. For 5 days the surgical team worked 16-hour shifts and operated on nearly 150 children in 3 cities. But another 250 children had to be turned away. “I couldn’t bear looking at those faces and having to say I was sorry,” Bill said.

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A volunteer nurse from Virginia with a 4-month-old infant after he received surgery to repair his cleft lip. Photo taken during a medical mission by Operation Smile to Barinas, Venezuela, in 2002. Photographer: Marc Ascher, Norfolk, Va.

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