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What is a Mission?

On a typical mission, a team of up to 60 credentialed medical professionals (surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pediatricians, dentists and others) from around the world travel to a partner country to treat children over a two-week period. Our teams are organized with both in-country and international volunteers and include interpreters, Operation Smile mission coordinators and two high school students. Along with our volunteers, our missions arrange for the medical equipment, medication and supplies that meet our Global Standards of Care.

Over the last two-and-a-half decades, we’ve developed a highly efficient process for screening and treating hundreds of children within each 7-10 day mission at the highest standard of care we can deliver.

Medical Care

  • Operation Smile UAE raises much needed funds to provide free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the world.
  • Operation Smile UAE is committed to Operation Smile’s Global Standards of Care, ensuring that every patient treated by Operation Smile will benefit from the same sophisticated equipment, procedures and highly trained credentialed staff, no matter where they receive treatment.
  • The safe surgery and healthy recovery of our patients is our primary concern.
  • All Operation Smile medical volunteers have been through a rigorous credentialing process to ensure that the patient is getting the best possible care.
  • Biomedical technicians ensure that medical equipment meets Operations Smile’s Global Standard of Care.
  • During Operation Smile international medical missions translators are available throughout the medical evaluation and surgery process.

The Medical Mission Experience:


What to Expect During A Medical Evaluation:

  • Every patient will receive a free medical evaluation.
  • A medical evaluation involves the patient being examined by the following specialists: pediatrician, plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist, dentist, otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), child life specialist and speech pathologist.
  • A medical record is made for each patient. The patient’s photo is taken and the patient’s vital statistics are taken, i.e. height, weight, temperature, etc.
  • The patient will be asked about their medical history.
  • A blood test will be taken.
  • A list with the names of the patients and their medical record numbers, as well as the date and time of their surgery, will be displayed and read out for all the patients and their guardians to hear and/or read. Not all patients will receive surgery.
  • Not all patients will be recommended for surgery. Patients will not receive surgery due to the following factors:
    • Poor health
    • High surgical risk
    • Low surgical priority
    • Not an Operation Smile candidate (patient does not have a condition treated within the scope of Operation Smile’s care).

What to Expect From the Surgical Experience:

  • The patient must check in with Operation Smile volunteers one day before surgery.
  • Patients are not allowed to eat eight hours prior to surgery.
  • Patients will be medically evaluated in a pre-operative area prior to going into surgery.
  • Before surgery the medical professionals will meet with the guardian and patient to explain important information regarding the surgery and what to do after the operation.
  • Before entering the operating room the patient is given a special set of clothes to be worn to ensure that everything is clean.
  • Parents/guardians are not allowed in the operating room. Medical professionals will take care of the patient until the surgery is complete.
  • When the patient is ready he/she will be taken to the operative room by a member of the Operation Smile medical team.
  • After the operation is complete the patient will go into the recovery room.
  • Once the patient has been discharged from the recovery room he/she will be brought to the post-operative ward.
  • The post-operative ward has enough beds for all patients. One parent or guardian stays with their child here.
  • Most patients who have had cleft lip repairs will go home the day after surgery.
  • Patients who have cleft palate surgery may stay for two or more nights. A patient’s hospital stay will be free of charge while under the care of the Operation Smile medical team.

What to Expect from Post-Surgical Follow-up Care:

  • Patients are strongly advised to return for their post-operative medical examination one week, six months and one year after their operation.
  • Patients will be given the dates and locations for these post-operative medical examinations.
  • Patients will be photographed when they return for their follow-up exam so that Operation Smile can record another new smile.

What to Expect from Speech Therapy:

  • During a mission the speech pathologist will have a speech session with the patient and their family prior to the surgery. This will help the patient to improve their speech after their cleft lip and/or cleft palate has been corrected.
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