• Mileny

    During our January 2023 mission, we met a beautiful 4-month-old girl named Mileny who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Her family are descendants of the Inca and speaks Quechua. She is from a very small village in the rural mountains of Peru and no one in this village had ever seen a cleft before and didn't know what to do. Luckily Mileny's 5-year-old brother told his elementary school teacher that his sister was born with a cleft lip, and she called a friend in Trujillo which is a much bigger city. Ultimately, they were put in touch with us at Healing the Children Rocky Mountains. We purchased bus fare for Mileny and her mother Isabel.

    Isabel is an amazing woman. She had only 2 years of public education and never learned to read or write. She had never traveled before yet embarked on a 3-day journey that involved walking, riding a motorized bike (tuk tuk), and multiple buses to arrive in Lima. Just like we do for all patients coming from outside of Lima, we had a local medical student meet them and arrange for a hotel and food near the hospital we operate at. Isabel had never been to a city before which must be incredibly intimidating given how big Lima is; yet she said she would travel any distance to help her daughter. She told our team that she was afraid she would get the reverse of altitude sickness by coming down out of the mountains to get to Lima and would become very ill. But she took that risk to get her daughter the care she needed. Mileny received the 2-hour surgery from our team and recovered exceptionally well. She had a very wide bilateral cleft lip, and her surgery was transformative. It was very emotional for everyone in the recovery room as Isabel held Mileny and shared her story of how far she had traveled. Mileny now has a chance at a much more typical and normal life in her village."

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  • Fabiana

    Fabiana is a 10 month old girl that lives the remote highlands of Peru. She was born with a cleft lip so Fabiana's family were somewhat outcast and were desperate for help. In 2019, a volunteer social work discovered Fabiana while traveling through remote areas of Peru. We were able to pay for the multi-day bus fare for her and her mother to arrive and stay in Lima. Fabiana had very successful surgery on her cleft lip and was able to work with speech therapy throughout the week to improve her feeding and nutrition. We have her already scheduled her to come back in 2020 for cleft palate repair. Fabiana is an amazing little girl with hopes and dreams and a family. It is humbling and wonderful to help so many individuals like Fabiana and offer them a chance at a more normal life. We are so grateful for the generous support of so many that makes these life-changing missions possible.

  • Anali

    One little girl who really stood out is named Anali. She was, at the time of our 2018 Peru mission, a beautiful 11 month old girl who was born with a cleft lip. Her family did not have the resources to help her get the surgery done. She was carried in the arms of her parents over 8 hours by bus to arrive in Lima. The moment I met Anali, she came right into my arms to be held and then she just calmly felt my face and played with name tag. And then she stared into my eyes, and I felt like her soul was talking to my soul and thanking me for coming to help her. It was a very powerful experience. She had a very successful surgery of fixing her cleft lip and also placing ear tubes to help her hear better. Her parents were so grateful! Anali's worth is priceless and we were humbled to be able to help her.

  • Kihara

    Kihara was born March 2014 with a very rare congenital bilateral transverse cleft that occurs in less than 1 in 80,000 births. In this condition, the cleft extends into the cheeks making a very large mouth and also the muscles that surround the mouth are not connected. This means Kihara was unable to move her mouth at all and appeared to have a constant frown. Also food and liquid would run out of the corners of her mouth. Her parents travelled all over Peru but could not find doctors who were experienced in repairing a transverse cleft. We met Kihara our first day in Lima and were able to provide her with the surgery she needed. Her parents were overjoyed and her mom wanted to take our picture with their daughter so that she could always show her the volunteers who came from far away in the United States to help her. This photo, top-right, was taken 3 months after her surgery. She is now eating and drinking normally and has an unbelievably cute smile.

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  • Idel & Isidro

    Brothers Idel (3 yrs) and Isidro (18 months) came to see us with identical left unilateral transverse clefts. Transverse clefts occur when the muscles in the cheek and corner of the mouth do not completely come together in development leaving one or more sides of the mouth larger than normal and prevents the patient from moving their mouth. This leads to unpreventable drooling, makes it difficult to keep food inside their mouth when chewing, and prevents the patient from smiling properly. Transverse clefts are very rare, 1 in 80,000, and though there are genetic tendencies we were surprised to see a set of brothers with the exact same defect. Dr. Brown was able to perform the surgery for both boys and now they will be able to move that side of their mouth and smile normally.

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  • Ander

    Ander was born with a bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. At 3 months old he was an ideal candidate for surgery. The hope is to be able to fix both defects, at different times, before he would naturally learn to talk. If done in this manner he may never learn the bad speech habits one learns due to the defect. Ander came to us wearing a prosthetic palate guard which helps bring the palate together, slowly closing the gap in the palate, while he grows until he's big enough for surgery. This is very rare to see such a prosthetic in a third world country but it will help him have a smaller gap in his palate when it comes time for his second surgery this fall. We were able to perform repair of his bilateral cleft lip during this mission.

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  • Danna Sofhia

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    Danna Sofhia is beautiful 4 years old little girl who came to see our team in November 2014 after receiving word that we were coming from an aunt who lives in Canada who had seen information about our mission via the internet. Danna Sofhia is the perfect example of the power of early surgical intervention. She was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate. She had her first cleft lip surgery at 4 months old and her first cleft palate surgery at 9 months by two local Peruvian doctors through their non-for-profit organization. Last summer, at age 3 years, she had a fistula repair, a small hole in her palate, by another US medical mission team.

    As children get older and their heads and faces grow they often need cleft lip revisions because their scar stretches and gets thin and tight. In November 2014 our medical team was able to preform a cleft lip revision for Danna Sofhia. She is now set for the next few years.

    Though she is a beautiful little girl and her lip will look close to normal just a few weeks after surgery, the most remarkable thing about Danna Sofhia is actually her voice! Most children who are born with cleft palates have a hard time talking and learning how to pronounce their words correctly, especially without intensive speech therapy. They often sound very nasally because the air is coming out through their nose instead of through their mouth. Because of her cleft palate surgery at such a young age she never learned how to speak incorrectly, or with "broken equipment". When she began to talk, her palate was intact and repaired. Because of this, our very own team of professional speech therapists could not detect any residual affects of her cleft palate. In fact they did not believe she ever had a cleft palate. This is a testament to early cleft surgical intervention!

    Danna Sofhia has one older brother. She has only received professional speech therapy from our team this November, but her mother does work with her at home and her teachers also work with her at school. In her spare time, like most kids her age, Danna Sofhia likes to play, draw and watch TV with her brother.

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  • Wilber

    Wilber, age 10 months, was a classic Bilateral Cleft Lip baby who came to see us for the first time in November 2014. He was 8 months old and was born with two incomplete sides to his lips. He is a super sweet little boy who loves to laugh and when he does it accentuates his cleft defect in the most precious way. He also has a bilateral cleft palate so he will require another surgery to fix that next year.

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  • Armando

    Armando came to us in March 2013 during a cleft mission to Lima under HTCNE. He and his family live in a remote village located on the Amazon River far from Lima. He traveled more than one week by boat and bus in the arms of his mother with only what she could carry on her back. His mother heard about our mission from her sister who lives in Lima. Armando's aunt had received a flyer at her local grocery store advertising the upcoming cleft mission. She mailed the flyer to her sister and urged her to make the journey to have Armando's cleft lip repaired. The surgery was a success and his new sweet smile and snugly demeanor won the hearts of many of our team.

    Eight months later in November 2013, Armando and his mother returned, this time with the whole family including his father and 2 brothers, so Armando could have his cleft palate repaired. Now older and wiser Armando was not quite as happy to see us as before but still got excellent care and his eating and speech will ever be improved because of the treatment he received.

    Armando returned to see our team again in 2014 for a minor cleft palate repair. His cleft lip scar has healed so well and our team is happy with his progress. As he grows and gets bigger he will need a lip revision, but for now he looks wonderful. He is 2 now and much less scared of the doctors in funny hats as he was before. It was so refreshing to see this little guy laugh and giggle and play like a normal 2 year old.

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  • Joseph

    Joseph came to us in November 2013 during a cleft mission to Lima under HTCNE to have a furlow procedure done on his palate to help improve his speech. He made a huge impression on the whole team when he explained to the Jeri, the team member who took him back for surgery, why he was so smiley before his surgery. "I'm sick of my friends making fun of the way that I talk and I know this surgery will help me" he said as he hopped a ride on Jeri's back down the hall to his OR room. It's kids like this that remind us why we do these missions. We go there to change lives, no matter how big or how small. For Joseph, it was a BIG deal!