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Many children and their families are affected by congenital defects or traumatic injuries that influence the quality of life and physical and emotional well-being of the child. But most families in developing countries do not have access to or the funds to get their child proper medical treatment.

Our surgeons share their expertise with philanthropic organizations, such as Operation Smile, Cents of Relief, and Hand Help, Inc. that organize surgical medical missions to economically challenged regions around the world. In countries such as Honduras, Brazil, and Jordan, our surgeons at Yale Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery are able to make a dramatic difference in the lives of children who otherwise would never be able to have surgical or medical care for congenital and traumatic issues.

John A. Persing, MD

  • Since 1986, Dr. Persing has been traveling to developing nations to provide volunteer pro bono surgical work for children affected by craniofacial disorders and birth defects. His passion to help has brought him to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, India, Jordan, Panama, Peru, South Africa, among other countries to provide treatment for children with cleft lip and cleft palate.
  • Dr. Persing is an active member and supporter of Operation Smile, an organization that provides reconstructive surgery to children who are born with deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. As a prominent children's charity, Operation Smile, comprised of dedicated medical volunteers, has provided over 200,000 free surgeries to children and teens born with facial deformities.
  • Dr. Persing is a supporter of Cents of Relief, an organization dedicated to providing healthcare, education, and prevention of human trafficking to women and their children in hopes that they can enjoy the basic necessities of life.

J. Grant Thomson, MD, FRCS, FACS

  • Since 1998, Dr. Thomson has been leading a group of professionals to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to perform hand surgery on children and adults with congenital and acquired hand problems. Hand Help, Inc. includes plastic and orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, a pediatrician, and a hand therapist. The team brings all the necessary equipment and supplies. The humanitarian effort is funded entirely by donations. Over the past 12 years, the team has operated on over 800 individuals in Honduras.
  • For more information about Dr. Thomson’s mission, visit