Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Pediatric Patient Stories

Jon, a writer in the Boston Children’s Marketing Department, is a former patient in the Boston Children’s Cleft Lip and Palate Program. In his own words, here is his story:

"A smile is one of the universal signs of happiness and joy, and thanks to Boston Children’s Hospital, I can smile just as well as anyone else.  Behind my smile is over a decade of care I have received at Boston Children’s.

An important part of the care was the communication. I was always a curious child, and I would ask about every little tool I saw and asked about every step of each procedure. Whether it was John Mulliken, MD, or Richard Bruun, DDS, of the Orthodontic Program who was treating me, I never felt talked down to, and always received thorough and clear answers—which helped me psychologically prepare for my surgery and recovery.

My journey began in Vietnam, where I was born.  Partially due to my cleft lip and palate and the Third World environment I was born in, I was malnourished when I came over to the United States. Quickly, that changed: According to my adoptive parents, spaghetti was my favorite meal when I arrived and I ate plenty of it (I still do).  Before I had my surgeries at Boston Children’s, I had to have my spaghetti chopped into pieces because it would go through my nose. As unimportant as that may seem, as a little kid, there’s nothing more fun than twirling spaghetti. Sometimes when I drank milk and laughed too hard, milk would come out, which I found humorous!

But it was not always fun and games.  I had to go through many years and hours of speech therapy, had to wait to chew gum since I had braces until I was 18 years old and endured the pain of surgery while missing a few youth soccer seasons.

Through all of those challenges, however, I have learned to be patient and grateful for all I have, and how lucky I was to be treated at Boston Children’s."