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Lismar's Story

Family is Grateful to Cleft and Craniofacial Team for Daughter's Wonderful Outcome

When Lissette and Antonio prepared for the birth of their first child, they were filled with the excitement and anticipation of every expectant parent. Those feelings soon turned to fear and confusion when their daughter Lismar was welcomed into the world in September of 2019, and doctors told them their baby had been born with a cleft palate. Lissette described the wave of emotions when such a joyous and beautiful occasion suddenly became one of worry and frustration.

The pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Massachusetts, quickly assured the young parents that there were many wonderful treatment options available for their daughter and provided two suggestions for referrals. Lissette immediately went into mama bear mode; she knew she had to be strong for her baby. As she learned about the comprehensive care for patients at the Cleft and Cranial Facial Center at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, she knew this was the place to take her beautiful baby girl.

Lissette and Antonio brought Lismar to the Boston Shriners Hospital when she was only 18 days old. There they met with Eric C. Liao, M.D., Ph.D., and the cleft team who described a treatment plan for Lismar. The new parents were impressed to learn that all of Lismar’s needs could be met by one multidisciplinary care team. All of the specialists a child needs are available to the patient and family when they come to the cleft clinic, including the oral surgeon, plastic surgeon, nurses, speech pathologist, dietitian and care managers.

As a Spanish speaker, Lissette was also gratified to learn that a Spanish interpreter would be present at every appointment. They knew immediately that they had made the right choice. “Shriners is the bright light and path we want for our daughter,” Lissette said. “The team is excellent, capable and so supportive, caring and helpful from day one.”

Lismar faced many difficult challenges. She was a very petite baby with an open palate. She would often spit up through her nose and palate, causing her to have frightening choking episodes and inhibiting her ability to gain weight. But with the cleft team’s guidance and a special bottle for feeding, Lismar started to gain weight. This past June, Dr. Liao performed surgery to repair her cleft palate. Lissette said Lismar is now a completely different child. At 16 months, she is thriving, and she can eat just like any other child to get the nourishment she needs. “She is a very happy, active and intelligent girl. She is beautiful like her mother,” Lissette said with a laugh.

Lissette would advise other parents who are learning of a cleft diagnosis to stay strong. At first, it is very difficult, but she encourages families not to become disheartened. “Put all your love and faith into caring for your child. With the cleft team at Shriners you cannot go wrong. It is the best option for children with cleft lip and palate, and I recommend the hospital to any parent," she said. “There are not enough words to express our gratitude to Dr. Liao and his team. Your child will be in the best hands!”


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