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News / December 12, 2007

Operation Smile Ireland team heads to Africa

by Guy Hiscott

A team of volunteers comprising dentists, paediatricians, anaesthetists, nurses and medical students recently performed about 200 cleft lip and palate operations in Africa, as part of a 25-year-old mission to help some of the poorest children in the world.

The 23 volunteers with Operation Smile Ireland worked in Africa for up to two weeks, while international Operation Smile volunteers worked at 40 sites across 22 other countries. The global 25th anniversary operation is called the World Journey of Smiles.

The Irish leg of the mission cost about 150,000 euros and the hour-long procedures were performed in local hospitals.

‘In some of the poorer African countries we find that we are only repairing cleft lip, because the children who are born with cleft palates have died,’ said plastic surgeon Dr Michael Early, who is based at the Children’s University Hospital in Temple Street.

The parents of patients who are too young for surgery are given help with feeding techniques and specially shaped bottles.

For further information on the work of Operation Smile Ireland please visit the organisation’s website