First annual “Cleft and Craniofacial Family Celebration”

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Every year, thousands of children are born with congenital malformations of the lip, nose, gums, palate, jaws, orbits, eyelids, ears, and skull. These often require multiple surgical procedures and care from a multidisciplinary team that includes Plastic (craniofacial) surgeons, geneticists, ENT surgeons, ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, pediatricians, intensive care physicians, pediatric trained anesthesiologists, dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech therapists, audiologists, nutritionists, psychologists, and social workers. Dry. Raj Vyas and Dan Jaffurs of UCI partner with Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC) to help lead this multidisciplinary team of specialists in caring for these complex children.

The face has many critically important functions, including breathing, speaking, swallowing, hearing, and seeing. It is our primary means of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Also, the bones of the face protect the eyes and brain from injury in trauma and their proper growth is critical for normal neurosensory development.July is cleft and craniofacial awareness month. This year, we held our first annual “Cleft and Craniofacial Family Celebration” with CHOC Children’s Hospital at the Santa Ana Zoo. Our children were able to enjoy a fun summer day with animals, crafts, and delicious food (courtesy of our generous sponsors), and parents were able to meet one another, share experiences/advice, and laugh and cry together. Three very special children, age 6 to 21, shared their stories of being born with complex craniofacial anomalies and how they were able to overcome the challenges they faced and continue to face. There wasn’t a dry eye left.