Jose lives in Tijuana, Mexico and was born with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. When Jose was a baby his mother took him to have his cleft lip repaired by a visiting surgical team from San Diego. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with visiting surgical teams on short-term surgical trips, Jose did not receive the necessary follow-up care after his surgery because the team returned to San Diego the same day. A week after surgery his cleft lip repair split open and he was left with a worse deformity that he started. His family did not have the money to pay for surgical care in Tijuana so they waited until the visiting surgical team from San Diego returned a couple years later so they could show them what happened and hopefully have his lip repaired again. Jose underwent a second cleft lip repair by the visiting surgical team only to have the same problem occur after surgery. His lip did not heal and split open. Jose was not able to attend school because of this devastating deformity.
When Jose was 7 years old he was evaluated by the Multidisciplinary Cleft Palate Team at the Hospital Infantil. On May 23, 2009 Jose underwent his third attempt at a cleft lip repair by the ConnectMed surgical team. Despite the fact that he had lived so many years with this deformity, he was very willing to share his excitement with the doctors and students that observed his surgery over a live videoconference in Tijuana and in a conference room at UCSD.
Jose recovered beautifully from his surgery and is followed closely the doctors and specialists in the team clinic. His resilience and good nature is a testament to his courage to overcome adversity. Due to multiple failed attempts and fragmented surgical care by visiting surgical teams without follow-up care, Jose had to wait until he was 7 years old before his lip was repaired and he could start school. Long-term multidisciplinary treatment of children with cleft lip and palate is critical to optimize their outcomes so that they can lead normal lives.