July 12, 2011 – Wilmington, NC – Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides reconstructive surgery for children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. “Most people do not realize that cleft lips and palates are the fourth largest birth defect with an estimated 200,000 children born with the abnormality each year,” stated Beth Marshall, Founder of Operation Smile Carolinas. “Thousands of children are left untreated each year, so we appreciate the financial support we received from Live Oak Bank. In just 45 minutes and with only $240 per patient, a single surgery can forever change a child’s life.”

“The statistics are staggering,” commented Keith Merklin, Sr. Loan Officer at Live Oak Bank. “The bank wanted to contribute to the dental community and back the volunteers who use their specialized skills to operate on these children. Along with performing the surgeries, we appreciate that Operation Smile also pushes education and research. Aside from the physical scars, these children suffer socially so to be granted the surgical procedure is a life-changing opportunity. Our relationship and commitment to Operation Smile is one we hope to foster for years to come.”

By the end of 2010, Operation Smile had treated 160,000 total patients across 51 countries and transformed the lives of 13,000 children in that one year alone. Through the help of companies like Live Oak Bank, they hope to beat that record in 2011.