Founded in 1978, Operation Rainbow is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to performing free orthopedic surgeries for indigent children in developing countries worldwide who do not have access to necessary medical procedures or equipment.

I chose Rainbow because a rainbow is a universal sign of hope and a reassuring promise for renewal. The patients we serve have had little or no hope for a better life. I like to think that our surgical teams restore hope and bring the promise of a better life.

William B. Riley, Jr.
Founder, Operation Rainbow

We are

There are many organizations in the United States sending teams of physicians and surgeons to countries around the world. Operation Rainbow stands apart as one of the only orthopedic based nonprofit facilitating free surgeries, treatment and training. There are four Operation Rainbow surgeons who have received the prestigious American Academy of Orthopedics (AAOS) Humanitarian of the Year Award: Richard Coughlin, MD (2006), Taylor Smith, MD, (2011), Richard Gosselin, MD, (2016) and Dave Atkin, MD (2021).

Our Missions

Each year, we plan 12 to 14 medical missions around the globe based on need and continue focusing on education in these countries as part of our expanded care model. We only go where we are invited and where we can do the most good.

While the missions vary, a typical mission lasts seven to nine days and includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pediatricians, technicians, physical therapists, and translators. In partnership with the local hospital, we host a clinic to evaluate patients and then utilize two to three operating rooms throughout the week. The team works long hours every day in order to perform 45-65 corrective surgeries and address the non-surgical needs of 200-300 children and adults.


We Treat Thousands of Children Every Year

In a one-year period, approximately 4,000 children and adults receive non-surgical medical intervention from the Operation Rainbow teams. Treatments include assessment of need and medication prescribed, physical therapy, and individualized exercise regimen. In addition, on all missions, Operation Rainbow provided general medical care to help patients with a variety of conditions that could not be treated by their local hospital either due to lack of resources or diagnosis.

The tremendous need for Operation Rainbow’s capacity for healing is emphasized every time we visit a community hospital in a developing country. Repeatedly, we are faced with cases such as Manuela—a child who is unable to walk normally or go to school. When an Operation Rainbow team helps to save even one child’s life, we bring relief to an entire community. We ease the burden of their parents, siblings, and extended family.


During Covid-19 our team has pivoted to provide virtual education for the local teams in these developing countries. While we are not on the ground performing surgeries, we are confident in our abilities to educate and empower the local medical teams and create self-sufficiency . We have always been proud of Operation Rainbow’s ability to be agile and adaptive, and our shift to virtual education in 2020 showcases the ingenuity of our team.

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We Are Teachers

Operation Rainbow’s teaching and educational programs can be equally as life changing as its orthopedic surgeries. Education is a large part of each mission. We educate doctors, nurses, technicians and anesthesiologists to ensure the local teams become better equipped to care for their indigent community. We also travel with translators to efficiently communicate and teach in the local language.

Helping Communities

Over the past four decades, Operation Rainbow has provided more than 18,000 children with an estimated $85 million in medical care, for under $4.75 million.

We are
46 years

We are Orthopedic Specialists

Operation Rainbow has specialized in orthopedic medicine and working in the countries that need orthopedic help the most. Operation Rainbow distinguishes itself from other global medical aid groups thanks to our long history working in the global public health scene and the dedication and generosity of the volunteers. With 42 years of experience and 1,000+ skilled volunteers, Operation Rainbow puts to work the generous support of sponsors and donors to change the lives of impoverished children and young adults in medically underserved communities.

The dedication of Operation Rainbow’s 1000+ skilled volunteers, the generous support of our sponsors and our low administrative overhead enable the foundation to transform lives of indigent children in a way that rivals global medical aid groups many times its size.

Operation Rainbow is not religious, political or government funded. We support anyone who needs care and do not provide medical care based upon race, gender, religious or political orientation.