... People pushed their babies at us, tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes
and begged us to help
their children.”

- Kathleen Magee, Operation Smile
Co-founder & President

Operation Smile is an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. It is one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide through access to surgical care. Since 1982, Operation Smile has developed expertise in mobilizing volunteer medical teams to conduct surgical missions in resource-poor environments while adhering to the highest standards of care and safety. Operation Smile helps to fill the gap in providing access to safe, well-timed surgeries by partnering with hospitals, governments and ministries of health, training local medical personnel, and donating much-needed supplies and equipment to surgical sites around the world. Founded and based in Virginia, U.S., Operation Smile has extended its global reach to more than 60 countries through its network of credentialed surgeons, pediatricians, doctors, nurses, and student volunteers.


Operation Smile launches in the Philippines

It all started with a bunch of bananas.

"I just want to thank you for trying to help my child," the mother said, presenting the American doctor with a gift of fruit, "Maybe next time you can come back and help us."

On that November week in 1982, due to a lack of resources, the mission group could only treat 40 children with a cleft repair surgery. 

"It was at that moment that I really believe the organization was born," reflects Dr. Bill Magee, CEO and Co-founder of Operation Smile, of his first experience in Naga City. "It just wasn't fair. We had--and still do have--a responsibility to these children."

The following year, he and his wife, Kathy Magee, returned to the Philippines to treat more children -- this time under a new banner: Operation Smile.

For over 35 years, Operation Smile Philippines, the local chapter of the global volunteer surgical charity, has cared for over 31,000 children with cleft lip and palate. With over 200 credentialed medical volunteers and an active Board of Directors, Operation Smile Philippines can now be found in 15 regions of the country serving those without access to comprehensive cleft care


we have the courage to take on that challenge. There are not enough human beings to take care of the need ... We have to continue to do more, we have to challenge ourselves to do more.”

-Dr. Bill Magee, Operation Smile
Co-founder & CEO




“Every child that has a facial deformity is our responsibility. If we don’t take care of that child, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.”

- Kathy Magee, Operation Smile Co-founder and President