Patient Stories

Overcoming Her Obstacles

Though Nazifa now has a beautiful new smile, her journey in accessing cleft care was anything but easy.

From Hurt to Healing: Efren's Emotional Change

At 9 years old, Efren’s schoolmates were his worst enemies. He lashed out against his bullies, who constantly target him with insults because of his cleft lip and cleft palate.

As if he didn't have a name

Cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries gave Joseph the confidence to pursue his education without the threat of bullying

After 34 years, Moroccan man receives surgery

Abdellah works in a port, loading packing containers. Though he has a steady job, he has never had the means for surgery to repair his cleft lip, nor did he know a solution was available.

On a mission to spread smiles

From the moment Niño entered the hospital, he let his personality shine through the language barrier as he connected with the medical volunteers. He even helped the other children laugh, easing their nerves around being in a new place and fears of surgery.

In Paraguay, an ultrasound raises alarm

During a routine ultrasound in her final trimester of pregnancy, Karen discovered that her baby would be born with a facial deformity.

In Rwanda, a mother's quest to help her son

Alejandro was born with a cleft lip. When her son’s father learned of his birth defect, he refused to accept or even see the newborn. The clinic where Judith gave birth told her it was possible to repair Alejandro’s lip with surgery, but she would need to take care of her son and make sure he was feeding properly and gaining healthy weight.


Eden Rose and Eugene’s excitement at the birth of their first child turned to despair when their daughter, Jinden Juriz, was born with a cleft lip. Both parents had seen people with cleft conditions through their work in the fish industry in Negros Occidental, Philippines, but never imagined that it would happen to their child.


A young mother sat patiently on a bench with a sadness overwhelming her face. She wore a white shawl and covered her baby with a blanket so no one could see the baby’s face. She was waiting for her baby's medical evaluation at the Operation Smile medical program in Jimma, Ethiopia.

Starving for Food, Starving for Attention

Esdras Mendoza looked like a newborn at just 4.9 kilograms, or about 10 pounds. I locked eyes with him in passing and instantly fell in love. It wasn’t until later that I learned Esdras was not in fact an infant. He is 6 months old and severely malnourished.


“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