Pampanga, Philippines – With a birth defect, particularly one that is located in the face, children have dealt far too many embarrassing moments and complications for them to live their life to the fullest. With this in mind, Operation Smile Philippines, in cooperation with Kapampangan Development Foundation, and over 20 local volunteers changed 82 children’s lives in a 3-day medical mission.

Last July 3-6 at the Rafael Lazatin Memorial Medical Center (formerly Ospital Ning Angeles) in Angeles City, Pampanga, over 35 members of Operation Smile and over 20 local volunteers took part for a free cleft surgery medical mission.

Dr. Edwin Magallona, along with 8 volunteer plastic surgeons, performed cleft surgery on 82 children ranging from 1 year old to 14 years old who have cleft palate, cleft lip and other facial deformity. Through this medical mission, he hoped to boost the confidence of these children who have been too embarrassed to go out, much more to go to school.

“Happy kami na nakakatulong sa mga bata. ‘Yung iba kasi di na nakakapasok ng school dahil tinutukso sila dahil sa kanilang deformity, “ he said.

According to the report from the Philippine Birth Defect Registry, cleft lip and palates are included in the top 12 birth defects in the country. In addition, one in every 500 babies born every year has a cleft lip, palate or both as deformity. With this figure, Operation Smile has dedicated 30 years of service to give smiles to these children.

Most of the patients were first-timers while some came for their second operation for the improvement of their past surgery. Dr. Magallona shared that he was saddened when it was not possible to operate on some children due to pneumonia. To avoid complications in the surgery, it is imperative that the patient is in good health and hasn’t contacted any illness for the past 7 days.

Dr. Magallona will be joining the next medical mission of Operation Smile in Pampanga this coming November 2013.

Operation Smile Philippines is a local organization under Operation Smile International which provides not-for-profit volunteer medical services worldwide to indigent children and young adults with facial deformities. Composed of Kapampangans with roots in Pampanga, Kapampangan Development Foundation provides social and health services to their townspeople. Dr. Edwin Magallona quarterly joins Operation Smile Philippines’ medical missions to change the lives of his countrymen for the better.