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SMILE CHINA is a Canadian project with a similar aim to that of "Face to Face" of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The 2 main goals of this project are (1) to provide facial plastic and reconstructive surgery to underprivileged children born with facial defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate in underserviced remote areas of China and (2) to share surgical techniques and knowledge with local surgeons.
In March 2001, as President of the Canadian Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, I led a team of 2 operating room nurses and a video photographer on Smile China's first surgical mission. The team traveled to Kunming in the province of Yunnan, and Liuzhou in the province of Guanxi for a busy, productive, and fun 3-week stay in China. Kunming and Liuzhou are both located in remote mountainous areas in the foothills of the Himalayas where many minorities and farmers live. The incidence of cleft lip and palate are higher in these regions where intermarriage is common. Indeed, the team was overwhelmed by the number of patients with cleft lip and palate waiting for them. Thirty cases (27 cleft lips and 3 cleft palates) were done in 10 operating days. Many, many cases had to be left untreated. I helped the local surgeons with current surgical skills and also explained the protocol of a complete cleft lip and palate program, including speech pathology. I felt comfortable with the local surgeons' quick understanding and grasp of knowledge. The warm welcome and tremendous gratitude of the local communities was touching. The entire team felt that they were on a very memorable, heartwarming trip.Article
Wong JK. Smile China. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2002;4(4):269. doi: