Jacinto was born with a severe cleft lip and palate in the rural Guatemala area of Nebaj, Quiche. His parents, Jose and Maria, agonized over his care and the future that surely awaited a child with his deformity. Then a Partner for Surgery health promoter told them corrective surgery was possible, but the doctors would only accept healthy children and Jacinto was too malnourished to qualify. Maria and Jose quickly agreed to in enroll Jacinto in Partner for Surgery’s Cleft Infant Nutrition Program and received in home care training. They followed procedures, used formula provided by the health promoter and Jacinto became a happy baby and gained the weight needed to qualify.
In April of 2015, when Jacinto was five months old, our health promoter took Jacinto and his parents to Antigua where his lip was repaired by the Free to Smile surgical team. He returned to his village and in the spring of 2016, we brought Jacinto to the team from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia which closed his palate. When we asked Maria how she felt after the palate surgery, she said, “Today my boy is a normal boy. When he was born I wanted to hide him; I was scared of him. Now he is beautiful and he is complete.”