A Regular Schedule of Surgeries Local Hospital Partnerships

The past fiscal year was a time of COVID restrictions, country lockdowns, closed borders and international travel limited to all but the essential reasons. To continue to care for patients during the ever-evolving pandemic, we relied on what was already in place in so many countries – our local care centres and the trusting partnerships and relationships with their local hospitals and health authorities which have been built over many years.

The strength of these partnerships allowed for cleft surgical programs to begin on a smaller scale and regular basis. The commitment from our donors and medical volunteers ensured that every planned program had all the resources in place to proceed. Children who were waiting were reassured that their new smile was soon to be next.

In Mexico, for example, monthly surgical programs were established in the fall of 2020 in both Monterrey and Guadalajara. These programs operated for a short time and were paused for several months because of local COVID restrictions. The monthly program in Monterrey resumed in May 2021 at the HPS Hospital La Conchita with four patients receiving surgery each month. Eleven other countries supported by Operation Smile Canada donor partners established monthly surgical programs. In Colombia, cleft surgeries are occurring at three local hospitals, and Ecuador’s partnerships have led to nearly 30 patients per month, on average, receiving surgery.

76% Patients Received Surgery in 2021 Through Regular Surgical Programs

Every surgery we conducted, every smile we delivered, every life that was changed this past year was a blessing, given the pandemic. Yet for every new smile you and our medical volunteers helped deliver, there are thousands of children like Cristian – all still waiting for their new smiles.

Cristian was born in 2020 in Nicaragua with a cleft lip and palate, and respiratory issues. As Cristian waits for his life-changing surgery, his parents, Yolanda and Jaime, continue to worry about his health and well-being.

Cristian Rogelio Ramirez López