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Operation Smile Expands Its Medical Efforts to Help Earthquake Victims in Haiti
Date:2/4/2010

NORFOLK, Va., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the continued need for critical medical and surgical care for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Operation Smile, Inc. has further mobilized its global resources and sent three highly skilled medical teams and over 2 1/2 tons of medical equipment and supplies into the region over the last two days.  The Operation Smile volunteer teams, which are comprised of 44 credentialed plastic and orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, therapists, critical care nurses, and technicians, will be deployed across three locations in Haiti. This broadly coordinated effort comes less than two weeks after Operation Smile sent a team of 20 medical volunteers and over three tons of life-saving medical equipment and supplies to Haiti.  

The first of the three teams has replaced an existing group of Operation Smile medical volunteers located an hour east of Port-au-Prince in Fond Parisien. This initial disaster relief group had been in Haiti since January 24 and, with the assistance of other humanitarian organizations and Operation Smile staff, helped established a comprehensive medical and surgical compound that expanded the capacity and level of care in Fond Parisien. "This site is one of the best I've seen in Haiti.  You have a collaboration of Non-Governmental Organizations coming together that can sustain the work for the long haul," said Harry Mayer, U.S. Government Liaison to the Pan American Health Organization.

The capabilities of this enhanced facility resulted in an influx of patients from around the country including patients transferred from the USNS Comfort.  Dr. J. Spence Reid, an orthopedic surgeon and Operation Smile volunteer, noted that the compound had tripled in size within the first five days of the teams arrival. Lucia Mauer, a volunteer nurse with Operation Smile, noted, "The volume of work is increasing as more patients need post-operative care.  Since we got here, the change has been incredible. We are here to save as many limbs as possible." She added, "It is one story after another – their lives are changed forever."

The Operation Smile medical volunteer team treated severe orthopedic injuries and other serious wounds, conducting over 100 surgical procedures in operating rooms that were constructed under their supervision. In addition to the hundreds of patients that received tetanus vaccinations and general medical care, the team treated a wide range of bone fractures and made over 100 casts.

The second Operation Smile medical team that left on Tuesday, February 1, arrived in Port-au-Prince and will be working directly with the United States Navy aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort to help treat patients still in need of urgent care. The third team will work with Partners In Health, providing enhanced surgical support outside of the Haitian capital in the city of Hinche. Operation Smile also sent another shipment of much needed supplies including pharmaceuticals, medical and surgical equipment, as well as tents and basic provisions to support their mission. Operation Smile has a long history of working in conjunction with the USNS Comfort (since 2006) and Partners In Health (since 2008) and has conducted several joint medical missions that provided free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children in Haiti.

"We are very proud of our dedicated volunteers and staff members who have been working tirelessly to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti," said Operation Smile CEO and Co-founder Dr. Bill Magee. "Over the last two weeks, we have experienced first-hand the widespread need for quality medical and surgical treatment, which only deepens our resolve to provide long-term care to the people of 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 made a commitment to utilize its unique resources and quickly mobilize medical volunteers from around the world to provide assistance in Haiti. 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 who have experience working in difficult environments. In addition, the Operation Smile logistics team is skilled in deploying and organizing highly functional field hospitals in developing countries across the globe.

Many organizations have donated supplies, equipment and services to assist Operation Smile in their humanitarian mission in Haiti, including: Abbott, Actavis, AmeriCares, Covidien, Ethicon, Foundation for Orthopedic Trauma, Globus Relief, Hospira, Johnson & Johnson, MAP International, New St. Peter's Presbyterian Church, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Sentara Hospital, SIGN, Stryker, Swift Transportation, and Zimmer. Additional partners in the relief efforts include Harvard Medical School, MSV Foundation, Operation Blessing, Partners in Health, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Physicians for Peace, US SOUTHCOM and UVA School of Medicine.  For updates on Operation Smile's efforts in Haiti, visit the daily 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 in support of Haiti relief, you can text SMILE to 90999.

Photos and interviews are available upon request.

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

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