Provide quality surgical and dental services to poor and under-privileged children and young adults in various countries throughout the world as well as facilitate the transfer of education, knowledge and recent innovations to the local medical communities.
Twenty years ago, Medical Missions for Children (MMFC) heeded the call and sent its first surgical mission to Central America. Since that time, with the assistance of our donors and volunteers, MMFC has expanded its reach to provide surgical intervention for children and young adults in some of the most underserved corners of the world. MMFC services and treatment are provided by volunteer cleft, craniofacial, thyroid and microtia teams. Our cleft, craniofacial, thyroid and microtia teams provide a coordinated approach to primary and pediatric surgical care for children with orofacial clefts, as well as children and young adults with congenital deformity of the outer ear and thyroid goiters.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings or splits in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate) or both. Cleft lip and cleft palate result when facial structures that are developing in an unborn baby don’t close completely. Cleft lip and cleft palate occur when tissues in the baby’s face and mouth don’t fuse properly. Normally, the tissues that make up the lip and palate fuse together in the second and third months of pregnancy. But in babies with cleft lip and cleft palate, the fusion never takes place or occurs only part way, leaving an opening (cleft).
Microtia is a congenital deformity of the outer ear where the ear does not fully develop during the first trimester of pregnancy. Microtia ears can vary in appearance, but are usually smaller in size, often only consisting of a tiny peanut-shaped lobe. Microtia occurs about 1 in 5,000 births, though rates can vary depending on ethnic background. In 90% of microtia cases, it is unilateral, and tends to involve the right ear more commonly. The ear canal can also be present or extremely narrow (canal stenosis). Corrective surgeries typically occurs over multiple years and in 3 stages.
A Goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland that causes the neck to swell. Iodine deficiency is the major cause of goiter worldwide. In some parts of the world, the prevalence of goiters can be as high as 80 percent (the remote mountainous regions of southeast Asia, Latin America, and central Africa). When daily intake of iodine falls below 25 micrograms (mcg) per day, children are often born with hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland needs iodine to manufacture thyroid hormones, which regulate the metabolism. Surgery to reduce the size of swelling is required when the goiter is causing troublesome symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or swallowing. In those cases, Thyroidectomies under general anesthetic are required to remove part of the thyroid gland.
MMFC teams consist of highly experienced surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, speech pathologists and health care providers from different specialties. Residents also participate in our mission trips as we seek to train the next generation of surgeons, introducing them to the world of of medical service. What differentiates MMFC from other organizations is that we are not paid. We are 100% volunteer-based. Our approach is to physically bring our expertise and knowledge to these underserved areas and spread that wealth so that we can create a self-sustaining model.