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Ontario plastic surgeon volunteers time to transform lives by healing smiles

Click to play video: 'Making a Difference — A smile can change everything' Making a Difference — A smile can change everything
WATCH ABOVE: Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate, or other facial conditions where most needed throughout the world. Susan Hay introduces us to a Toronto plastic surgeon who volunteers his time transforming lives by healing their smile – Jun 20, 2018

A smile can change everything and no one knows that better than Dr. Vivek Panchapakesan.

“At Etobicoke General hospital, my practice covers the full spectrum of plastic surgery with a focus on facial reconstruction for patients with cancer, trauma and deformities,” said plastic surgeon Panchapakesan.

Not only is Panchapakesan changing lives in Ontario, he’s also doing it while on vacation in developing countries with Operation Smile Canada.

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“The fact that your life and your opportunity can be so different based solely on where fate decided you should enter the world,” Panchapakesan said. “I feel like I’ve been given this amazing opportunity and privilege and with that comes responsibility to give back.”

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“We help children living with cleft lip and cleft palate conditions get a new smile,” said Mark Climie-Elliott, CEO of Operation Smile Canada.

“These kids are living in parts of the world where there really isn’t any local surgical centres, let alone a hospital.”

There are 2.3 billion people in the world who don’t have access to any surgery.

“Operation Smile doesn’t just correct cleft conditions anymore,” Climie-Elliott said. “We’ve been recognized by the World Health Organization as having the gold standard in surgical care practices throughout these countries.”

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By setting up local surgery sites and training local professionals, Operation Smile is not only providing essential surgery for cleft conditions, they are improving the healthcare standards for all surgeries in the countries they serve.

“It’s not just the deformity they were born with, they’re born into conditions where there’s a lack of access to resources, to education and to opportunity,” Panchapakesan said.

“So to be able to help in a small way and give them a chance at something – is truly humbling.”

Last year alone, Operation Smile provided more than 20,000 patients around the world with surgery and dental care thanks to the generous hearts helping to transform the lives of children and adults by healing their smiles.

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