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While it is of course better to repair defects as early as possible (our youngest patient in the Philippines ever being 3 months old) we try to accommodate everyone we can help. We do not turn people away. If a patient is not well enough to have surgery, it is our goal through early screening to help the patient be ready in time for the mission through nutritional programs or by getting medication to control problems such as asthma and tuberculosis. We only operate on persons who have been vetted by community social workers to be persons in need.

There is an unusually high number in the Philippines due to genetics and malnutrition. Less mobility amongst the less fortunate as well as poorer health allows this gene to flourish.

The surgeons and anaesthetists come from all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, United States, Germany, UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. The nurses are all predominantly Australian or Filipino/Australian nurses although some have been funded from overseas. These talented volunteers work with our Filipino counterparts in the hospitals and communities serviced by Operation Restore Hope Australia to provide the care needed for our special children.

While the problem of hundreds of thousands of cleft lips and palates may seem too daunting to even tackle, Operation Restore Hope has a vision of how we can create a program that may change the way early birth defects and deformities are screened and treated in the Philippines. We hope that in working with our local Filipino partners through the immunisation centres that we can create a register of birth defects in a child’s early months. With this information we can target public education in the communities to which we have made a commitment (Lapu Lapu, Paranaque and Caloocan), increase training and equipping of local surgeons as well as our teams so that no child in the future should have to begin school with a cleft lip or palate.

The average cost of an operation is about $750 NZD. The cost is kept so low due to the amount of volunteer effort we have.

Operation Restore Hope is a registered charitable trust CC20520 All donations over $5.00 are tax deductable.

A cleft lip and/or palate is a separation of the parts or segments of the lip or roof of the mouth, which are usually joined together during the early weeks in the development of an unborn child. A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip and often includes the bones of the maxilla and/or the upper gum. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth and can vary in severity. A cleft palate occurs when the two sides of the palate do not fuse as the unborn baby develops.


It is estimated that there are 250,000 children and adults alike waiting for cleft lip or palate repair.