Medical Mission

Every year, Mending Faces leads a one-week medical mission to the Philippines to provide free surgeries to children born with cleft lip and cleft palate. Medical team volunteers made up of healthcare professionals and outreach professionals donate their time and expertise as well as fund their travel expenses to provide these free surgeries.  There is no cost to the impoverished families of the children we treat.

This annual medical mission would not be possible without the help of our partners in the Philippines, US and around the world including generous volunteers and the support of donors like you.

To learn more about volunteering on one of our medical missions please click here: VOLUNTEER

2012 Medical Mission Report


Information and Statistics on Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

More than 200,000 children are born with cleft lip and cleft palate each year, and the condition threatens both the life and livelihood of the child. Learn more about cleft lip and palate repair and surgery below.

What is a cleft lip and cleft palate?

As described by the center for disease control, a cleft lip/palate is a birth defect that occurs when the lip and mouth do not form properly during, approximately, the 9th week of pregnancy.  This causes the palate (roof of the mouth) or the lips to improperly join together leaving a hole or cleft.


What is the cause cleft lips and cleft palates?

The etiology or cause of cleft lip or cleft palate is unknown.  There is some evidence that there is a genetic link that predisposes infants to cleft lip/palate.  Although other evidence points to a multitude of other factors that can be a cause. For example environmental factors that an infant may be exposed to in utero (during pregnancy), improper diet, smoking, certain medications can also increase the risk for cleft lip/palate.

What sorts of problems to cleft lip and cleft palate cause to a person?

Children born with cleft lip/palate have an immediate disadvantage when it comes to feeding and getting proper nutrition.  This is related to the mechanics of not being able to suckle as an infant, and/or properly hold food in the mouth.  This leads to malnutrition, and a myriad of other health problems related to poor nutrition.  As the child with cleft lip/palate grows older the birth defect can contribute to difficulties with speaking properly.  As you can imagine, this leads to esteem issues, and sadly, most children are kept out of school because of the shame related to the defect.  Additionally, the hole in the roof of the mouth creates a continuous passage from the mouth into the nasal (nose) cavity.  This can lead to constant upper respiratory tract and sinus infections throughout life.


How frequently do cleft lips and cleft palates occur in the Philippines?

Recent epidemiological studies put the incidence of cleft lip and cleft palate at 1 in every 500 births in the Philippines.  This is a higher incidence versus the United States and other developed countries. 


How much does one surgery cost for cleft lip or cleft palate in the United States?

A surgery to repair a cleft lip is about $10,000.  A surgery to repair a cleft palate is about $15,000.


How much does one surgery cost for cleft lip or cleft palate in the Philippines through Mending Faces?

A surgery to repair a cleft lip or cleft palate is roughly $250. This is due to the fact that our volunteer’s donation their time as well cover their travel and lodging expenses to participate in the medical mission.  Plus the host hospital in the Philippines offers their operating room to use and several local nurses at no expense.