NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Locally based Operation Smile is celebrating 30 years of service this fall. The charity has performed 200,000 free surgeries to children around the world with cleft lips and palates. WAVY.com was there as one more child was treated by a local plastic surgeon.
Six-month-old Anthony Yoder was at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk early on Wednesday for his second of several surgeries to his fix his facial deformity. Anthony was born with a bilateral cleft lip, nose and palate.
"If you think it was meant to be, that helps for you to adjust to it or accept it," said Anthony's father, Edward Yoder.
Anthony's family are Mennonites from Rose Hill, Virginia, in the most southwestern part of the state. Edward and his wife, Loretta Yoder, said they reached out to Operation Smile for help because they don't have health insurance.
"It was still a challenge to feed him," said Loretta. "But, once he had his first surgery, it went better."
The Yoders have made the nine hour trip twice to CHKD for Anthony's procedures. Dr. Jesus Inciong, with Magee-Rosenbum Plastic Surgery, donated his services for both of Anthony's surgeries. CHKD is donating all services required for Anthony's care.
"We had actually taken care of his lip and his nose initially a few months ago," said Inciong, before Anthony's surgery Wednesday. "So now he's coming in for the second stage where we're going to fix the palate."
Loretta said seeing Anthony before and after his first surgery was remarkable.
"Wonderful how his mouth, how much better he looked with just one surgery," said Loretta.
Fixing cleft lips and palates is a global initiative Operation Smile has taken on for the last 30 years.
"It's unfathomable for me to have somebody who has a very treatable deformity not to have any surgery," said Inciong, a 16 year volunteer for Operation Smile.
According to the charity, one in 500 to 700 children around the world is born with a cleft and 6,800 children in the United States are born with an oral cleft each year.
Operation Smile's goal is not only to perform surgeries, but continue expanding efforts internationally.
"We don't want to just go over there and do the procedures and then leave," said Inciong. "We want to be able to help these people that are there."
Opening the new Operation Smile Global headquarters in Virginia Beach will enable the doctors, volunteers, researchers and staff to do more. The headquarters will be an educational center, where training and research will allow Operation Smile to continue making a difference to children abroad and in Virginia.
"I'm very grateful for Operation Smile for what they've done for us, and Dr. Inciong," said Loretta. "We're well taken care of."
To learn more about Operation Smile's new headquarters, click here.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
Two Virginia Beach school buses were involved in accidents Tuesday morning.
Nearly one year after a man was gunned down outside an apartment, Smithfield Police are asking for help in solving the case.