Operation Smile Celebrating 25 Years, 100,000 Smiles - And We've Just Begun

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Operation Smile launches its 25th anniversary year in 2007, having grown into a worldwide children's medical charity dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults. Operation Smile volunteers have medically treated more than 100,000 children and young adults around the world and in the United States.

Operation Smile launches its 25th anniversary year in 2007, having grown into a worldwide children's medical charity dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults. Operation Smile volunteers have medically treated more than 100,000 children and young adults around the world and in the United States. Last year alone, medical volunteers provided free surgeries for 9,334 children through both international medical missions and in-country local missions.

According to Operation Smile Co-founder and CEO Dr. William Magee: "We could never have accomplished so much over the past 25 years without the dedicated support of our volunteers, donors and staff." His wife and Co-founder of the organization, Kathy Magee added: "This journey has been one we have been privileged to share with so many wonderful people, all of whom we thank for helping make this organization a global success."

With its headquarters based in Norfolk, Va., Operation Smile draws upon a global network of thousands of credentialed plastic surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, dentists, pediatricians, speech pathologists, child life specialists and biomedical technicians who volunteer their time and talent. For its International Mission program, Operation Smile currently sends teams of medical volunteers from all over the world on two-week medical missions to designated sites in 25 partner countries, airlifting millions of dollars of donated medical supplies and teams of medical professionals to hospitals in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

In addition to International Missions, Operation Smile conducts education initiatives to provide our partner countries with specialized skills to treat children with facial deformities on their own, with their own resources, their own volunteers, their own supplies and their own medical professionals. Education programs are tailored to each partner country's specific medical infrastructure. Operation Smile integrates its partnerships with leading medical teaching institutions into each of its in-country medical education programs. Operation Smile's partners include the American Heart Association, Harvard University, Chang Gung Hospital and University (China), Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Duke University, George Washington University, University of Southern California and Yale University. The annual Operation Smile Physicians' Training Program (PTP) brings doctors from around the world to the United States for advanced training in their specialized skills. To date, Operation Smile has brought more than 650 medical professionals to Norfolk, Virginia, for PTP.

In 2006, nearly two-thirds of the children who received surgery through Operation Smile did so through locally-conducted Operation Smile programs. More than 50% of Operation Smile's partner countries are now treating children on their own through local initiatives with their own volunteers and their own resources.

Through the participation of their daughter, Brigette, on the organization's first mission, the Magees learned the impact a young person's energy and empathy can have on the children being treated, as well as the life-changing experience that volunteering for Operation Smile is for young people. Since that discovery more than 450 Operation Smile Student Associations have been launched in the United States and around the world to build awareness, raise funds and educate students about the values of commitment, leadership and volunteerism. At least two high school students accompany each international mission team and serve as student educators to present basic healthcare information to patients and families.

Operation Smile launched its 25th Anniversary year in November 2006, announcing a year-long, multi-faceted series of initiatives to include the following:

  • Global Standards of Care - Operation Smile announces a plan to implement Global Standards of Care for all of its medical programs as a commitment to ensuring that every patient treated by Operation Smile will benefit from the same sophisticated equipment, procedures, and highly trained and credentialed medical staff, no matter where they receive care around the world.
  • Comprehensive Care Centers - Operation Smile will open Comprehensive Care Centers in Colombia, Honduras, Morocco, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Each Center will provide surgical treatment and post-operative follow-up for thousands of additional patients, especially those in remote areas. The Centers will also help train medical volunteers, strengthen local development and fundraising activities and provide on-going administrative support for in-country activities.
  • International Forums on Medical Diplomacy - As part of its ongoing effort to create a global humanitarian network to bring healing to the world's children, Operation Smile will host international forums on medical diplomacy.
  • World Journey of Smiles - The year-long anniversary celebration will culminate in November 2007, with the World Journey of Smiles, 40 simultaneous missions in 25 countries with a goal of treating an estimated 5,000 children living with facial deformities.

January Calendar of Events:

  • Jan. 10-20 - Caracas, Venezuela, International Mission
  • Jan. 13-14 - Virginia Beach, Virginia, Mission Training Workshop for student volunteers
  • Jan. 13-14 - Bogota, Colombia, Pediatric Advanced Life Support Training
  • Jan. 20 - Alexandria, Virginia, "An Evening of Smiles" Gala
  • Jan 23- Feb 4 - Chinendega, Nicaragua, International Mission
  • Jan. 24-28 - Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Latin America Region Biomedical Training Program
  • Jan. 24-28 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador, Local Mission
  • Jan. 27 - Newport News, Virginia, "25th Anniversary" Gala

About Operation Smile (http://www.operationsmile.org/)

Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is a worldwide children's medical charity dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults worldwide. Since its founding, Operation Smile has treated more than 100,000 children with facial deformities in 25 countries and currently works in: Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gaza Strip/West Bank, Honduras, India, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam. In addition to offering reconstructive surgery, Operation Smile provides education and training around the world to physicians and other health care professionals to promote long-term self-sufficiency. Operation Smile also provides a network of resources to assist families in the U.S. with children born with facial deformities. Accessed through the Operation Smile Web site, the network includes a listing of Referral Web Sites and a Physicians Resource List. Operation Smile has been distinguished by many prestigious awards, including the first $1 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to recognize outstanding contributions made to alleviate human suffering.

Media Notes: To receive images, b-roll footage or additional information, or to request an interview with an Operation Smile spokesperson, please contact Lisa Jones at 757-321-3252.

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