Many people are unaware of the global need for surgeries that correct facial deformities. There are people in developing areas struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford advanced plastic surgeries. Surgeries like these can change lives and make positive impacts on individuals.
In the areas that Dr. Paul Gardner visits, including South America, Central America and Southeast Asia, people with facial deformities like cleft lips and palates are often shunned by society. They may not be able to participate in regular events within their society and culture’s expectations beginning from an early age, leading them to become solitary. Being shunned can lead children to disengage from education as well as the community, which could potentially lead to social and economic problems throughout their entire lives.
The surgeries provided by the Operation Smile organization are also beneficial from a physical health perspective. Long-term dental problems can occur, and children with a cleft lip may have trouble eating, which causes nourishment issues. Speech impediments, ear disease, and many other issues can occur, making Dr. Gardner’s work life-changing for thousands of children.
Changing Dozens of Lives on a Single Trip
Dr. Gardner’s schedule is set and packed from the moment he arrives on site for the entire day. He rarely has a moment to slow down and enjoy the land and culture that he is visiting, simply because there is too much work to be done.
An average trip lasts about 10 to 12 days. During this time, Dr. Gardner will perform around 120 to 180 corrective surgeries. That’s over 120 lives that are changed forever and who will never forget the incredible work that Dr. Gardner has done.
Outreach Abroad and at Home
There is a continuing need for these surgeries in developing nations, but there is also a need right here in America. Dr. Gardner has been able to extend his charity work in south Florida, performing surgeries on local children who would not have the resources to pay for these procedures. He is making an effort to extend these foundations so that local children can receive the same benefits.
Help for People of All Ages
Because there are so many people that need these surgeries, Operation Smile puts their priority on helping children. This leaves volunteers with the heart-breaking prospect of turning down adults who would also benefit from these surgeries. On occasion, however, Dr. Gardner has had the chance to work with adults.
While performing surgeries in Vietnam, Dr. Gardner was reached by a 26-year-old farmer from a secluded area. The man waited an entire week for the chance to see a doctor despite not being on the surgery list. He explained to Dr. Gardner why he desperately wanted the surgery. The man said that for his entire life, no one in the village would give him a kiss. Dr. Gardner and his wife, who helps as a nurse, were touched by the farmer’s situation and gave him a spot on the operating table.