Operation Smile Sends Medical Volunteers and Medical Supplies to Haiti

Team of 20 departs Norfolk to Provide Critical Medical Aid

Jan 25, 2010, 15:12 ET from Operation Smile

NORFOLK, Va., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, Jan. 24, Operation Smile, Inc., sent a team of 20 highly skilled medical professionals including plastic and orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, critical care nurses and technicians, to Haiti, along with over 3 tons of life-saving medical equipment and supplies.  The medical volunteers, supplies and equipment traveled to Santo Domingo International Airport in the Dominican Republic and will then proceed into Haiti to provide much-needed medical treatment and assistance.

Operation Smile staff are on the ground in Port-au-Prince working in collaboration with local officials and other relief organizations including Partners In Health to coordinate efforts. Operation Smile has collaborated with Partners In Health since 2008 to launch programs for free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children in Haiti.

Operation Smile is known for its 28-year history of providing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in developing countries and is not traditionally a disaster relief organization.  However, the organization is uniquely suited to quickly mobilize medical volunteers from around the world to provide assistance in crisis situations such as what is occurring in Haiti right now.  With over 4,000 Operation Smile credentialed medical volunteers and a presence in over 50 countries, the organization has immediate access to trained surgical and medical professionals that have experience working in difficult environments.  The Operation Smile logistics team is also skilled in deploying and organizing highly functional field hospitals across the globe.

Operation Smile has been putting the Haiti mobilization plan together since the earthquake struck, according to Co-founder and CEO Dr. Bill Magee, who stated, "We have the opportunity to make both an immediate and long-term impact in Haiti with our specialized surgical team.  We are committed to helping the people of Haiti, who have become part of the Operation Smile family, and who now need our help even more."

Nine members of the medical team are from the Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania and several have worked with Operation Smile on previous medical missions.  The rest of the team is comprised of Operation Smile medical volunteers from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington.  Additional volunteers from around the world are being organized to provide further support.

For updates on Operation Smile's efforts in Haiti, you can read its blog on www.operationsmile.org/haiti, follow @operationsmile on Twitter, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/operationsmile.  To make a $5 donation to Operation Smile, you can text SMILE to 90999.

About Operation Smile (www.operationsmile.org)

Founded in 1982 by Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee, Operation Smile, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is a worldwide children's medical charity whose network of global volunteers are dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children and young adults. Since its founding, Operation Smile has treated more than 140,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities and the organization has a presence in more than 50 countries. In addition to contributing free medical treatment, Operation Smile trains local medical professionals in its partner countries and leaves behind crucial equipment to lay the groundwork for long-term self-sufficiency.

SOURCE Operation Smile