When Abraham, lovingly called “Abie” or “Abe” by his family, was born with a soft cleft palate, his parents were completely taken off-guard and had no idea where to turn. “We were terrified and started thinking about what else could be wrong,” recalled Marcy, Abie’s mom.
The team at Newton Wellesley Hospital referred the confused and overwhelmed family to the Cleft and Craniofacial Center at the Boston Shriners Hospital for more specialized care, and Marcy’s fears almost immediately dissipated. “As soon as we met the cleft team, we knew we had found the right people to take care of Abie,” she said. “We were introduced to everyone on the team at our first visit and we were immediately put at ease.”
Led by Eric C. Liao, M.D., Ph.D., the team at the Cleft and Craniofacial Center is multidisciplinary and includes specialists from many health disciplines. “Because only Abe’s soft palate was affected, the orthodontist nicely told us that we probably wouldn’t need his help,” Marcy said. “This was great, because we learned in that first visit that the focus in the short term for Abie would be really on feeding and speech development.”
While Marcy considers Abie’s case to be mild compared to other patients the Cleft and Craniofacial Center staff cares for, she recalls underestimating how dramatic the outcome of the surgery would be. “I remember Dr. Liao assuring us that once the repair was made, it would look like it never happened,” she said. “I didn’t think it was possible at the time, but he was right. Abe is all fixed up now and will have no idea about this unless we tell him.”
Turning two next month, Abie is now a silly, playful and fun-loving kid with a real hankering for pizza. “He likes to eat pizza. Like a lot of pizza,” Marcy laughed. “He waves and blows kisses to everyone he sees. He also likes to demonstrate how fast he can run and then pretend that he might fall down just to see if you get up to rescue him.”
Marcy hopes that Abie’s story can help other parents dealing with a cleft diagnosis and gives the following advice: “The team at the Boston Shriners Hospital is the best in the world. The outcome will be better than you expect.”