Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Operation Restore Hope: Restoring hope through a better smile

Operation Restore Hope Operates on Kids with Cleft Lips and Palates in Caloocan City

A team of medical professionals from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Germany recently conducted a medical mission in Manila to put the smile back on the faces of Filipino children with cleft lip and palates.

Dubbed as Operation Restore Hope, the Australian surgical charity commenced from 19-24 February at the President Diosdado Macapagal Medical Centre in Caloocan City. Along with their Filipino counterparts headed by Dr. Raquel So-Sayo, the group was able to operate on more than 60 patients.

The surgical mission was spearheaded by renowned Australian cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson. Its primary goal is to provide free plastic and other specialty surgical services to less privileged persons who, without the donation of such services, would remain untreated and permanently disadvantaged. Normally, this type of reconstructive surgery costs A$500 (approx Php 20,000).

Australian Ambassador Tony Hely dropped by the hospital to provide support and congratulate the doctors and medical volunteers for their unwavering dedication to help secure a brighter future for the children. “Through Operation Restore Hope, indigent children and young adults who already face so much adversity in their daily existence are given a better chance in life,” Amb Hely said.

Since it began in 1994, Operation Restore Hope has already treated over 1,000 persons with cleft lip and palate, burn or tumours or ulcers of the skin. Not only has it incorporated a highly successful dental program, it is also working closely with immunisation centres to monitor birth defects and deformities in a child’s early months.

“With this information, we can target public education in communities to which we have made a commitment so that no child in the future should have to begin school with a cleft lip or palate,” Dr Hodgkinson said.

Dr Hodgkinson is a former President of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery. Among other professional organisations, he is a member of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, the International Society of Laser and Cosmetic Surgeons, the Lipoplasty Society of North America and the Priestly Society. He is the consultant plastic surgeon at the Skin and Cancer Foundation of Australia and is a surgeon teacher at the Medical College of Virginia and Westmead Hospital in Sydney.