Lilongwe, Malawi medical mission
Operation Smile conducted a medical mission at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Operation Smile medical volunteers provided full healthcare assessments for 255 patients and provided reconstructive surgery to 144 patients with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities. The volunteer team included 76 volunteers from seven countries.
In addition to the medical evaluations and surgical procedures, Operation Smile also conducted two research projects throughout this mission. One was a Patient Care Survey to improve the access and quality to care provided to patients. The other was a Palate Care Protocol to assist in decreasing the complication rates in palate patients.
One of the patients who received surgery on this mission was 16-year-old Mandola Mavuto. Mandola lives 403 kilometers from Lilongwe. When he heard about the Operation Smile medical mission on the radio, he decided to pack a small bag and begin his journey to Lilongwe. He was no stranger to walking alone, as most of his life was spent in isolation due to his appearance. It took Mandola two full days of walking to arrive at the mission site.
When Mandola arrived, he was pointed to a car that was being packed. The Operation Smile mission was coming to a close and volunteers were sealing boxes to pack into the car. He introduced himself to the team, and the volunteers quickly unpacked the car for him. In return, he gave everyone the biggest smile of the entire mission.