Healing the Smiles of Children

Stories of Caring

Healing the Smiles of Children

It’s said that a child smiles 400 times a day. But every three minutes, a child is born with a facial cleft.

Thanks to the Johnson & Johnson partnership with Operation Smile, Johnson & Johnson Medical in Asia Pacific was able to help more than 1400 children smile for the first time after having their cleft conditions repaired in 2013. Globally, Johnson & Johnson has helped to restore more than 3600 smiles.

During the missions, physicians surgically repaired each child’s cleft, which is an opening in the lip, the roof of the mouth or the soft tissue in the back of the mouth. One in 10 children born with a cleft will die before his or her first birthday. Those who survive are often shunned by society, and their families are unable to afford the reconstructive surgeries needed to give their children a healthy, productive life.

The reconstructive surgeries were the culmination of efforts across the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices & Diagnostics business units throughout Asia Pacific. Employees volunteered their time serving in Operation Smile missions as well as fundraising for the cause.

"I am very grateful to our employees for their incredible efforts and living Our Credo values," said Vladimir Makatsaria, Company Group Chairman, Asia Pacific, adding, "In 2014 and beyond, we will continue to contribute to our legacy of caring in the pursuit of healing something universal to all of us - a smile."

In 2013, Johnson & Johnson employees volunteered in Operation Smile missions spanning remote parts of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal and India.

China is an example of many countries across Asia Pacific that face high unmet medical need. Approximately one in every 600 babies in China is born with a cleft lip or palate and nearly 30,000 new cases are reported each year.

Consider Huaqing, a young boy among the hundreds of children who received surgeries at the Fengkai Operation Smile mission in China where more than 20 Johnson & Johnson colleagues volunteered. The Fengkai mission was one of the largest of the year with 200 patients screened and more than 150 smiles repaired.

During the mission, Will Song, General Manager, China Global Surgery Group, was touched by Huaqing’s plight while volunteering to screen children. (Song, wearing an orange T-shirt, is pictured above holding Huaqing).

“I’m so proud I had the chance to be part of the Fengkai mission,” Song says. “Knowing I touched the lives of hundreds of children was an overwhelming experience. I’m honored to work for a company that makes it possible for children like Huaqing to gain access to much needed health care.”

From the 2013 Johnson & Johnson Annual Report