NORFOLK, Virginia — Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity, recently announced an incredible gift given by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church is donating $927,400 to Operation Smile to support upcoming medical missions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Jordan.
A long-time supporter of the medical charity, this is the largest gift The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ever given to Operation Smile. With this donation, 3,864 children will receive new smiles and hope for their future.
The need for quality cleft care in those four countries — and worldwide — is urgent. It is estimated that in those four countries, more than 11,600 children are born each year with a cleft condition. Globally, every three minutes, it is estimated that a child is born with a cleft condition.
One in 10 children born with a cleft will die before his first birthday. If they do survive, many of these children are unable to eat or speak properly, and they are often shunned and rejected by their communities. Operation Smile is dedicated to raising awareness of this life-threatening issue and providing lasting solutions that allow children to be healed, regardless of financial standing, well into the future.
However, Operation Smile cannot provide care for these children without the continued support of generous donors like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and dedicated medical volunteers. Through the ongoing collaboration and support of our donors and supporters, Operation Smile has provided free reconstructive surgery for more than 150,000 children worldwide who suffered from cleft lips and cleft palates. In as little as 45 minutes, and for as little as $240, a single surgery can change a child’s life forever.
“There are not enough words to express how deeply grateful we are for this generous donation,” said Dr. William Magee, Co-Founder and CEO of Operation Smile. “When you see the hope and despair in these children’s eyes, and see that same anguish mirrored in their parents’ eyes, you truly understand the magnitude of what a gift like this means. More than 3,800 children will now have the opportunity to laugh with their friends, grow up to be productive members of their community, and know what it is to feel hope and happiness.”
“We are grateful for members of the Church who have so freely donated financially to the Church’s Humanitarian Fund,” said Fred Riley, project manager with the Church’s Humanitarian Services. “It is through such donations that this partnership with Operation Smile can come to fruition. We know that much good will come from this partnership and look forward to helping to increase the good work that Operation Smile provides.”
Salt Lake City, Utah, is the longest-running Operation Smile Chapter, established 26 years ago by Dr. Greg Kjar and Dr. Dan Sellars. The Utah Chapter has broadly supported Operation Smile and has contributed to the recruitment of hundreds of medical and non-medical volunteers. The medical volunteers, the Utah Chapter Board, corporations, foundations, families and students have been instrumental to the growth of Operation Smile as an organization.
For more information on Operation Smile’s global efforts, visit www.operationsmile.org, follow @operationsmile on Twitter, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/operationsmile. For more information on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.lds.org.