Operation Smile China Project


November 2019

Eighteen precious people needing cleft repairs from NE Myanmar, 12 family members, six staff from the Wa Women’s Federation, and Veronica (local Chinese volunteer) and I teamed up with the Lan Cang Hospital and Operation Smile China in November 2019. This was the largest surgical project MHSF has undertaken to date…and the most challenging!

Even though I had asked multiple times for routine blood tests for all patients before they came, we ended up with a case of appendicitis at the border crossing who was treated there and unfortunately missed out on a cleft repair, a child with pneumonia who despite considerable effort, was not well enough to have surgery this time. Then there was a case of chickenpox! Thankfully after rapid identification and isolation, no one else caught it. This is one of the difficulties of working in conflict zones with endemic poverty, low immunisation rates, and poor nutrition.

Beautiful smiles of Hope as the children wait for surgery

It was wonderful to get to know these families over the 10 days of the project. Bags of clothes were donated for both patients and caregivers. Toys were also purchased by MHFS to help bring comfort and joy…and pass the time!


Sweet moment captured by Joshua Jagelman

15 patients received successful cleft repairs, however, one teenaged girl needed emergency surgery during the night due to bleeding at the wound site. Thankfully she recovered well, but this really was a very eventful project that kept us all on our toes!

Below are some before and after photos to show you the transformative power of a one hour surgery!

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