donate icon DONATE

Shriners Children’s Cleft Lip and Palate Care Inspires Confidence

When Peyton, 12, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, his parents, Jamie and Derrick, were unaware of his condition and shocked to learn about it.

He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit of a larger hospital, where it became clear that many challenges loomed ahead. “We had this fear that every time we fed him, he might choke or stop breathing,” said Jamie. “It was a really difficult time for us.”

The family made their first 7-hour trip to Springfield, Massachusetts, from their home in Northern Maine when Peyton was just a few weeks old. They met with Philip Stoddard, M.D., beloved plastic surgeon and head of the cleft lip and palate program at Shriners Children’s New England. Dr. Stoddard performed Peyton’s first surgery to repair his cleft lip when he was 6 months old. This was followed by another procedure at 18 months to repair his palate and help prevent fluid in his ears.

Although Peyton’s early care at Shriners Children's greatly improved his ability to eat, breathe and hear, his cleft lip and palate caused him to develop a speech impediment as he grew and started to talk. Dr. Stoddard performed a soft palate repair when he was 7, but his speech was still affected.

Peyton began to experience bullying during elementary school because he looked and sounded different than his peers. He became very angry and upset, and developed severe anxiety. The family sought assistance from a local therapist who helped Peyton process his feelings and channel them into positive thinking.

The staff are so great about asking him not only about his condition, but about who he is as a human. From the nurses and physicians to the child life and security staff, everyone encourages Peyton and really listens to what he has to say.
Jamie, Peyton's mom

With a newfound sense of confidence, Peyton has persevered. “The way I look now makes me feel proud of the treatment I received,” he said. Currently in seventh grade, Peyton participates in many sports and activities, including cross country, skiing, baseball, basketball and snowmobiling. He has had bone graft surgery to further repair his palate, and will continue to see the team at Shriners Children's New England as he enters his teenage years.

This past December, Peyton was thrilled to travel to Shriners Children’s New England with Jamie and his grandfather, Mitch, for a special visit that didn’t involve a medical appointment. Instead, he had an opportunity that many kids only dream of – he got to meet former NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski! After the surprise holiday visit, Peyton and Jamie participated in a television interview that aired nationally and was seen by countless friends and family members. “It was an experience that Peyton will remember for the rest of his life,” said Jamie. “He was a local celebrity for a while and he loves to tell his story.”

Peyton’s family is grateful to Shriners Children’s New England for helping him gain self-confidence by facing, and embracing, his physical challenges. “The care that they’ve provided is beyond what I would have ever imagined,” said Jamie. “It’s been life changing.”

Meet Peyton

This active and outgoing middle schooler has been receiving cleft lip and palate care at Shriners Children's New England since he was a newborn.

baby Peyton with cleft lip

Peyton's sunny personality was evident from the start

Peyton wearing formal vest, shirt and bowtie

Peyton looking dapper for a formal event

two images of Peyton

Peyton has many interests and a great sense of humor

Peyton with Rob Gronkowski

Meeting former NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski was an experience that Peyton will never forget

Next Steps

Share Your Story

Our patients and families are at the heart of everything we do at Shriners Children's. We invite you to share how the team at Shriners Children's has helped your child.

Give to Shriners Children's

Through the generosity of donors like you, we've helped over one million children lead more fulfilling lives, regardless of their families' ability to pay.

Contact Us

Have a question or request? Need to make an appointment? We're here for you.