Nothing brightens your day like sharing a smile, but for patients with cleft lip or/palate, sharing a smile can be anything but simple.
Although cleft lip and/palate is one of the most common birth defects in the world, the specialized care required to treat cleft is extremely limited in many developing countries. As a result, many people end up living with untreated cleft and suffering much higher rates of poor health, malnutrition, and poverty. Children with clefts often have difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking and are bullied or teased, making it almost impossible to integrate into their communities.
CFC support enables volunteers to make healthy smiles possible for underserved patients like Alberto. He and his family live in a rural area of Ecuador without the resources for cleft care. Alberto was only 6 months old when he underwent surgery for his cleft lip with our volunteers. A year later, he underwent surgery for his cleft palate with the same medical team.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberto and other patients like him have been able to receive cleft care though our telehealth programs, including speech therapy and psychosocial support. In-person care such as dental treatment and surgical procedures will continue as soon as conditions are safe for missions to resume.
Alberto’s family knows that the volunteers who return every year will provide the best care possible for their son. With a healthy smile, Alberto will be able to grow and thrive, ready to live a full life.