At Stryker, nothing inspires or motivates us more than enabling healthcare professionals to restore health to their patients. So when a cause like Operation Smile presents an opportunity for us to play a part in life-changing surgeries, we embrace the challenge. Since Operation Smile began regular missions to India in 2002, the outreach organization’s volunteers have provided medical evaluations to more than 7,000 children and young adults and performed life-changing cleft lip and palate surgery on more than 2,700 patients. Stryker has supported Operation Smile’s expansion, including the funding, training and travel of surgical residents participating in a unique fellowship program. The Operation Smile Stryker Fellows program sends promising young doctors throughout the world on missions to repair facial deformities.
In 2009, Operation Smile’s single largest mission took place in Guwahati, India, where surgical and support teams evaluated over 1,000 patients and completed over 500 life-changing surgeries. Among the surgeons was Dr. Ian Valerio, chief resident at the University of Pittsburgh and an Operation Smile Stryker Fellow, whose high degree of skill earned him the responsibility and exhilaration of running an operating room and performing his own cases just three days into the trip. Dr. Valerio credits his fellow Operation Smile surgeons with teaching him multiple new ways to repair cleft lips and palates beyond the experiences that his formal training had previously offered to him. Not only has he pledged to return annually for Operation Smile missions, but Dr. Valerio plans to bring a resident with him on each trip to share the valuable learning experience and perspective that he gained during his previous missions.